President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has bemoaned the long delay on the part of state actors in the country quest to abolish the death penalty from the statute books of Ghana, noting that it is long overdue.
Ghana is yet to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a subsidiary agreement to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is aimed at abolishing the death penalty.
The Optional Protocol was created on 15 December 1989 and entered into force on 11 July 1991.
Speaking at the Jubilee House on Friday, when a delegation from Amnesty International (AI) paid a courtesy call on him, President Akufo-Addo said it is time to completely abolish the death penalty.
In response to AI’s proposal for the death penalty to be abolished, the President noted that since Ghana has made the conscious effort not to invoked the death penalty on person who are sentenced to death, the nation ought to do the “logical thing” by removing it completely from her statute books.
President Akufo-Addo also raised issue with the applicability of the abolishing of the death penalty to person who commit acts of terrorism.
He noted that it will be important to give consideration to how the abolition of the death penalty would apply to terrorists.
“A lot of people have come to me who in principle support the abolition of the death penalty.
“But whenever the issue of terrorism is raised and the mindless manner in which some of these terrorists’ groups operate to destroy human life, operations which do not involve killing of one person, but involves the annihilation of villages, of communities, people hesitate about supporting the abolition of the death penalty for such actors.
“I think it is important that the education and sensitization is sufficiently well laid to address issues like that.
“Nevertheless, I think that the principle is one that we should who towards in Ghana. In our case in Ghana, since we have made a conscious decision not to invoke the death penalty, then we should do the logical thing and remove it from our statute books.
“It’s a different matter if we were using it selectively, we are not using it at all. Everybody who is sentenced to death by the courts is automatically commuted to life imprisonment even though their treatment is still somewhat differentiated” he added.
Francis Nyantakyi, Board Chairman of Amnesty International who led the delegation which included the Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis Xavier Sosu, noted in his address that Ghana can attain the abolition of the death penalty by amending the Armed Forces Act, 1960 (Act 105) and the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
The two Acts, he noted, contain the provisions in Ghana’s statute books that support the application of the death penalty
He further observed that some progress has been made since AI last raised the issue with President Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House on the 4 February 2020.
“A private member bill has been introduced in Parliament by Francis Xavier Sosu, MP for Madina and ranking member of Parliament select committee on legal, constitutional and Parliamentary affairs” Nyantakyi said.
“With your [President Akufo-Addo] support, we hope that Ghana joins our neighbouring countries Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo and host of other African countries including Sierra Leone, and Liberia, that have abolished the death penalty” he added.
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 10 million people who take injustice personally.
Their aim is to campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.
AI are independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion and they believe that no government is beyond scrutiny and no situation is beyond hope.
AI investigates and expose the facts, whenever and wherever abuses happen. They also lobby governments, and other powerful groups such as companies to make sure that they keep their promises and respect international law.
It is also AI’s aim to tell the powerful stories of the people they work with, mobilize millions of supporters around the world to campaign for change and to stand in defence of activists on the frontline, while supporting people to claim their rights through education and training.