General News of Saturday, 15 July 2017
A death penalty is one of the punishments meted out to persons who have been convicted of having committed treasonable offences and in cases of murder in Ghana since coming into force the 1992 Constitution.
In view of this, Amnesty International has been advocating and still doing so vehemently that authorities in Ghana abolish the death penalty as it is an affront to human rights.
At an Amnesty report launch, the West Africa Researcher, Sabrina Mahtani is of the conviction that death penalty does not deter people from committing crimes and atrocities. Therefore, there should a grounded reformative system that develops the inmates to become useful.
“Based on interviews with 107 death row prisoners locked up and forgotten: The need to abolish the death penalty in Ghana provides further evidence of why Ghana should abolish this cruel punishment, in line with the recommendation of the 2011 Ghana Constitution Review Commission”.
Indeed, in 2011, the Constitutional Review Commission, after consultations and taking suggestions and proposals from individuals, institutions and organisations took cognizance of how necessary we ought to repeal Article 3(3) of the 1992 Constitution that goes with a referendum.
There is also a call for the amendment of the Criminal Code 1960 (Act 29) from our criminal procedures.
History has it that it was 1993 that Ghana carried out her last execution involving 12 prisoners convicted of armed robbery and murder. However, it’s been established that no President after the 1993 incident has singed that convicted death row prisoners face the death penalty.
According to the Ghana Prison Service, 148 persons were in death row prisons in Ghana; 144 being males and 4 being female as of 2016. And out of these numbers, only 12 death row inmates had filed appeals since 2006 – half of which were successful.
Nevertheless, Amnesty International considers Ghana as an abolishing-in-practice country because for the last decade no persons have been executed in the country and has an established practice of not executing anybody.
On the contrary, their cause of worry is how the Legal Aid system is “inimical” to the plight of inmates – they do not receive adequate legal representation for their trials and the vast majority have been unable to appeal.
Furthermore, some prisoners say their lawyers request for payment, others do not attend court hearings whilst some others do not give an opportunity to the inmates to tell their story for defence.