General News of Monday, 5 September 2016
Lawrence Amesu, the Director of Amnesty International Ghana, said a lot had been achieved towards ensuring that Ghana gains the status as abolitionist in practice.
He said Ghana has not executed anyone over the past 23 years even though the courts continue to sentence people to death, and “we have about 137 death row inmates, including three women, in our prisons currently.”
Speaking at the launch of ‘Advocacy Toolkit For Abolition of Death Penalty In West Africa’, Mr Amesu mentioned that he believes Amnesty International’s submission with support from other civil society organisations and the opinion of the public had contributed to the recommendation that death penalty should be abolished in Ghana.
He said though West Africa was leading that progressive forward march, however, the Anglophone countries within the continent were dragging their feet, while the Francophone countries, including Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, had either abolished the death penalty or were doubling their steps towards achieving that.
Mr Amesu said the toolkit is very useful for the media, civil society organisations and para-institutions which are advocating the abolition of the death penalty in Ghana as well as all government institutions which have a stake in the process.
“The document will also be very useful for the youth not only as an advocacy tool but also as a knowledge acquisition document because it highlights and explains such terminologies as abolitionist, retentionist, clemency, exoneration, pardon, among others,” he added.
The document, he said, traces the history and achievements of Amnesty International’s journey towards total abolition of the death penalty in the world while focusing a little more on the situation in Africa and West Africa.
The toolkit also highlights the international instruments and bodies that support the need for the abolition of the death penalty.
Dr Isaac Annan, a Director at CHRAJ, who chaired the function, said Ghana is human rights compliant as it ratified most of the United Nations Conventions & Resolutions, and reiterated the need for the country to abolish the death penalty as a sign of commitment.
Ms Sabrina Tucci of Amnesty International Secretariat, London, added that West Africa is a beacon of hope for the whole of Africa and urged civil society organisations to continue the campaign.
She called on governments to engage the public in debates on the issue.