President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says Ghana supports the abolishing of the death penalty for ordinary crimes that exist in the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and the Armed Forces Act.
President Akufo-Addo made that statement when Amnesty International, Ghana, called on him at the Jubilee House to canvass for support for its introduction of the proposed bill that seeks to remove the death penalty from the country’s status books.
The President said since Ghana consciously had decided not to execute the death penalty, the country needed to take steps to remove those laws from its status books to reflect the mode of that deliberate intention.
But in Ghana’s case, the President said, because of Constitutional structures, completing the whole process of abolishing the death penalty would involve the review of the country’s Constitution which would take some painstaking efforts.
Treason and High Treason remain offences that carry the death penalty and it will only need a constitutional review to amend it.
Ghana, in fact, and practice had not used the death penalty for over 30 years and the President thinks that the continuous violation and degrading treatment of persons on the death roll — kept in condemned cells and not executed — infringe on their human rights and must be addressed.
In June 2021, Francis Xavier Sosu initiated a proposal for the introduction of a bill to remove the death penalty from the Criminal and Other Offences Act, of 1960 (Act 29).
President Akufo-Addo urged the human right activist group to intensify their public education and sensitise a lot of people who in principle supports the abolition of the death penalty but hesitates whenever the issue of terrorism was raised.
He said a well-laid-down sensitisation programme ought to be carried out to convince the populace to agree and support the proposal as the mindless manner in which these terrorist groups destroy human lives and annihilate a whole town keeps well-meaning people away from supporting the abolition of the death penalty.
Nonetheless, the President said once the country consciously had decided not to execute the death penalty, then “we should do the right thing by removing it from the status books.”
President Akufo-Addo commended Amnesty International for its broad spectrum of human rights activities which all right-thinking persons must support and commend.
“Also, what Amnesty International, Ghana, had taken upon itself–the abolition of the death penalty… –deserves commendation and support from all,” he stated.
On his part, Francis Xavier Sosu, MP, said the proposal seeks not to completely abolish the death penalty because some laws needed a constitutional review to amend them.
However, their proposal constituted the abolishment of the death penalty for ordinary crimes as it currently exists under Act 29 and the Armed Forces Act.
“If you are on the death roll, you are in condemned cells and the problem is that having kept the person on the death roll in condemn cells and not executing them, continuously violates their rights guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution, which constitute a form of torture and degrading treatment of those persons.”
Francis Xavier Sosu, Chairman of Amnesty International, Ghana, said that even though Ghana is described as an abolitionist in practice, persons on the death roll are treated differently from persons who are lifers.
He said the Amnesty International, Ghana, Board had carefully reviewed the country’s Constitution and firmly believes that with the abolition approach, we will be able to achieve about 95 per cent abolition of the death penalty
Having described President Akufo-Addo as an experienced and acclaimed human right activist, the Chairman of Amnesty International, Ghana, called on him to support the course for the abolition of the death penalty.
Amnesty International’s proposal seeks to abolish the death penalty for most capital offences under national legislation.
“This is a unique opportunity for Ghana to make significant steps towards the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes,” it stated.