Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ghana’s parliament votes to abolish the death penalty

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Ghana’s lawmakers have voted to abolish the death penalty and remove it from the country’s statute books.

The parliamentarians on Tuesday approved for the death penalty to be replaced with life sentence as part of an amendment to the Criminal and Other Offences Act.

The amendment bill, sponsored by one of the MPs was passed on Tuesday and now awaits the Ghanaian president’s assent.

Human rights organizations have for long pushed for Ghana to abolish the death penalty especially when for decades it hasn’t been executed on those given such a punishment.

The last time convicts on death row were executed was in 1993.

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Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the deputy majority leader told reporters that this should come as good news for human rights institutions who condemned the death penalty provision as repugnant.

He welcomes the latest move as a step towards making room for new forms of sentencing.

“I’m happy to say that we have by this amendment of the parent act been able to repeal that provision that deals with the death penalty. So simply put, the death penalty is no more a punishment in our statutes,” he said.

Capital punishment was reserved for offences including murder, treason and genocide.

Afenyo-Markin said the repeal of the death penalty isn’t to encourage people to commit murder and other serious crimes.

“What we are saying is that God gives us life and under no circumstances should a person’s life be taken merely because of committing such an offence. That is not to say that those who take it upon themselves to take the lives of others are being encouraged to do so,” he said.

Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director Samira Daoud in a statement lauded the development in Ghana.

“Today’s parliamentary vote is a major step by Ghana towards the abolition of the death penalty. It is also a victory for all those who have tirelessly campaigned to consign this cruel punishment to history and strengthen the protection of the right to life. Although a landmark decision, the total abolition of this draconian punishment would not be complete without revising the Constitution, which still provides for high treason to be punishable by death,” Daoud said.

Since 1977, Amnesty International has been campaigning for the global abolition of the death penalty.

As of today, 23 out 55 African countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, according to Amnesty International.


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