Strong political will needed to amend death penalty sentence in Ghana – Lawyer

Amnesty International

The fight against the death penalty sentence could be effortlessly realized if there was a strong political will, Mr Martin Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, has noted.

He said if there was the will, ending the death sentence would take less than three months to see a change.

Mr Kpebu was speaking at a Stakeholders Consultative meeting organized by Amnesty International (AI), which is mobilizing campaigns for change to serve the interest of humanity in Ghana and beyond.

On offences that attract death sentences in Ghana, he mentioned treason, murder, genocide, espionage, and in some circumstances attempted murder and others enshrined in the criminal offences Act.

“The Criminal offences is an Act of Parliament and its amendment must start from the Executive arm of Government, this way we would make a complete headway,” he added.

Dr Vincent Adzahile-Mensah, a Research Fellow and International Board Member of Amnesty International, observed that a modern system of criminal justice must be reasonably accurate, fair, humane and timely and that the death penalty could not be reconciled with these values.

On executions, he said at least 483 people were executed in 2020, the lowest number AI had recorded in decades, adding that execution fell by 26 per cent compared to 2019 when 657 were registered and by 70 per cent from the peak of 1,634 executions reported in 2015.

On global trends, he said the year 2020 was marked by a further decline in death penalty cases while the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to reductions, it exacerbated the inherent cruelty of the punishment.

“The significant drop was primarily linked to the important reductions in executions in two countries that have historically reported high execution figures,” he explained.

In a briefing on the update of the death penalty campaign, Mr Samuel Agbotsey, Campaign and Fundraising Coordinator, noted that his outfit and its partners had presented a petition to the President with a recommendation to consider amending some sections of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29).

He said “the President appreciated the innovation of AI Ghana and suggested that the Minister considered the proposal to present a bill to that effect for consideration and onward submission to Parliament for a bipartisan debate and approval.”

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