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Akufo-Addo considers Amnesty petition to abolish death penalty

President Akufo-Addo has hinted that his government is considering processes which will lead to the abolishing of death penalty as a form of punishment in Ghana.

According to the President, the Attorney General’s Department has begun ‘serious examination’ of increasing alternative sentences in place of the death penalty.

His comment was in response to a petition from Amnesty International, a human rights organization, that putting people to death because of a crime they have committed is a violation of their rights to life.

About 106 countries has abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes, and 142 countries has abolished the death penalty in law or practice at the end of 2018, according to the group.

In Ghana, the rights organization says it has collected signatures of 11, 539 Ghanaians who want an abolition of the death penalty.

Addressing the leadership of the organization at the Jubilee House on Friday, February 14, 2020, President Akufo-Addo noted that the desire to respect the rights of every Ghanaian is not only to enhance the country’s international image on human rights but that there is a ‘concrete observation and compliance to human rights’ in reality.

“I like very much the idea of you partnering with the state to see what we can do to enhance Ghana’s human rights profile as well as the reality of human rights observance in the country. It’s not just the International profile that matters but the concrete observation and compliance to human rights on the ground, that should be our major concern. The process of partnering is a long going process, just as the Attorney General is already confirming serious examination of the possibility of increasing non-custodial sentences, these are all matters that are being looked at and I think that sooner than later, the country will have the benefit of our decision on them. Your inputs and insights will help all of us,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Death penalty is a form of capital punishment instituted by the 1992 constitution which requires that crimes, such as murder, treason, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and smuggling are punished by death.

Although successive Presidents since 1993 have refused to sign death warrants, about 180 condemned prisoners; 174 men and 6 women have been sentenced to death by hanging at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison.

Presenting a second petition to President Akufo-Addo, Martin Kpebu, a member of Amnesty International Ghana, and a legal practitioner called on the President to reconsider the solitary confinement prisoners on death roll are subjected to.

“In line with that, we did a petition and we sent it around the country to find out if citizens support our advocacy for abolishing of the death penalty and so far we have secured 11,539 signatures, these persons agree with us that the death penalty should be abolished. There could be a mandatory life sentence, as it is now, even though we know for a long time now Ghana doesn’t execute persons on death roll, the solitary confinement is practically mental torture, I’ve been to Nsawam a couple of times and it’s not a good sight to behold

“That is why we are pleading, we know these statutory amendments will take some time in the interim if you were to put out a formal moratorium and then further give directives so that the solitary confinement and those other treatments are abated,” Mr Kpebu indicated.

In reaction, the President said: “there is an elaborate program that is being designed by the Minister for Health about hospital development in the country. As I said, I have to confess, I don’t know whether that includes prisons but it was a commitment in our manifesto so I’ll have a look at it and see to what extent we can go down that route.”

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