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Expunging death penalty: CHRAJ lobbies

BY: Daily Graphic
File photo
File photo

Ghana’s Human rights commission is working to expunge the death penalty from the country’s statute books.

In line with that, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has since 2006, when the death penalty was first circled in the country’s Universal Periodic Review, recommended the removal of it from the country’s laws.

The commission has also advocated the issue, taking opportunities of public events to campaign for the death penalty to be struck out.

Other champions of taking out the death penalty from the country’s laws are the Member of Parliament of Madina, Mr Francis-Xavier Sosu, who has introduced a Private Members’ Bill to strike out the death penalty.

The opportunity to again speak about expunging the death penalty from the laws of the country presented itself recently, when a delegation from the Amnesty International (AI), Ghana, called the Commisioner of CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal to discuss AI’s advocacy campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Ghana.

The meeting, with a Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Richard Quayson, also present, offered the opportunity for the parties to frankly discuss the issue and chart plans of collaboration to realise the goal of removing the death penalty from the statute books.


For Mr Joseph Whittal, campaigns for the ammendment of the provisions in Ghana's Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29), and Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105) were laudable; also emphasising that the right to life was imbibed in the 1992 Constitution.

Thus as commissioned by the Constitution, the protection and promotion of the fundamental right to life of all Ghanaians was paramount, and CHRAJ, thus, was an automatic natural ally in the fight to realise that.

Again, for him, the death penalty was counterproductive, and, for that matter, amending legislation to lessen the penalty to a life sentence had to be considered in the interim, while effective and efficient measures were deployed to abolish it entirely from the Constitution.

Why Ghana, a nation known to be a beacon of democracy and good governance, still had the death penalty on its books was a matter to be wondered at, he thought.

AI

The AI's Campaign and Communications Coordinator, Miss Berlinda Asamayuah, who led the delegation, urged CHRAJ to champion the advocacy.

She admitted that though CHRAJ's mandates were broad, it was imperative for the Commission, as the national human rights institution, mandated to promote and protect all fundamental rights, especially the right to life and dignity, which are ultimate, to lead the campaign to abolish the death penalty.

That, she believed, would strengthen AI’s efforts, as well as provide technical assistance and expertise needed for the Bill to be passed.

Partnering

AI is partnering about 27 stakeholders, who share similar vision in the protection of the right to life, to submit a memorandum in support of the Private Members Bill before Parliament towards the abolition of the death penalty.

The AI has also paid courtesy calls on the President, the Speaker of Parliament, faith-based organisations, and some civil society organisations to court their support to abolish the law.

By the Public Affairs unit of CHRAJ