160 Inmates On Death Row- Amnesty International

By the end of the year 2020, there were 160 inmates, including five females on Ghana’s death row, Amnesty International (AI) Ghana Office has said.

These inmates, according to the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis Xavier Sosu, would need a minimum of GH₵75,000 and maximum of GH₵120,000 to file an appeal against the death sentence.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has described the death penalty as unfair and discriminatory, saying, “the Death Penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

It has therefore called for the abolishing of Death Penalty in Ghana’s statutes as same constituted torture.

Speaking at a media briefing in Accra on the commemoration of the 19th World Day against Death Penalty 2021, the Ghana Director of international human rights group, Frank Kwaku Doyi, noted that Ghana had ratified conventions against torture, hence the need to take the practice out of Ghana’s Statute.

This year’s celebration is themed: “Women and the death penalty, an invisible reality.”

Death penalty comes in the form of firing squad, lethal injection, hanging, among others.

Ghana still retains the death penalty in law, and inmates can be executed at any point in time at the signing of a death warrant by the President of the Republic.

The last execution carried out in the country was in the year 1993.

Mr Doyi said the conditions of men and women on death row did not meet international standards, as inmates reported of poor sanitary facilities, isolation, lack of access to medical care, among others.

According to Mr Doyi, appeals were not mandatory in Ghana and the majority of those on death row were unable to appeal against their convictions and death sentence.

He said in Ghana, the death penalty had been imposed mainly as the mandatory punishment for murder, noting that, judges were unable to consider any mitigating factors relating to cases, the circumstances of the offence and the background of defendants at sentencing when they impose death penalty.

Mr Doyi said there were no proof that imposition of death penalty had reduced crime.

“There is no credible evidence to show that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than life imprisonment. There are examples of countries which maintain the death penalty in their legislation and yet crime rates have remained at high level, for example the United States.

He therefore appealed to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, to put into effect the President’s directive to initiate the process of amending the Criminal and Other Offences Act-1960 (Act 29).

The Director of AI further appealed to Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Speaker of Parliament, to support and pass the Private Member Bill currently before Parliament, so that the Death Penalty would be removed from the Criminal and other Offences Act.

In his view, Ghana could learn from its fellow West African country, Sierra Leone, whose Parliament unanimously voted in favour of abolition of the Death Penalty in July 2021.

He said AI would mount a continuous campaign on abolishing death penalty.

READ ALSO: Madina MP Writes: Abolish The Death Penalty

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