Opponents of repeal of death penalty vindicated?
Ghana’s Parliament, this year, repealed the death penalty, also known as capital punishment, from its statute books, making Ghana the 29th country to abolish it in Africa and the 124th globally, according to.
The Death Penalty Project, a London-based NGO said, as reported by Reuters.
The bill for the abolishment of the death penalty was initiated by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, who led the argument that a life lost through “unlawful execution of penalty” could not be regained.
Others argued that those executed under it would not have the opportunity to appeal their conviction in case new evidence emerged which might exonerate them.
No doubt, these are sound arguments to win a debate on the repeal of the death penalty.
Even though it was unanimously endorsed by the MPs, there were some dissenting views in and outside Parliament on the repeal of the death penalty.
For such people, apart from opening the ‘flood gates’ for people to murder with impunity, they believed the death penalty as a punishment takes its root from the retributive theory of punishment, with the principle of an "eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth”, religiously applied to serve as deterrence to others.
Thus, if one commits murder, one must be punished in a manner proportionate to the crime of killing another person.
Again, why should a murderer take someone else’s life while he lives?
Sound arguments that can equally win the counterview.
The question then is, “Where do we draw the line between whether to repeal or not to repeal, for better benefits to the larger society?”
This conundrum brings into focus a graphiconline report on a heinous crime with the headline, Robbers mistake bread for cash – Return to kill pregnant woman.
The news report was that the robbers/murderers and a couple, who had just returned home ostensibly from their workplace, engaged in a fierce struggle for the couple’s possession, during which the robbers shot the husband in his right leg and left shoulder, and inflicted a machete wound on his head.
Having the man, the robbers took whatever they wanted and bolted.
To their uttermost chagrin, these robbers realised the wrapped parcel they took, thinking it was cash, was a loaf of bread!
They then returned to the house to shoot to death the pregnant wife of the man, who is on admission at the hospital now.
My question is, in a situation like this if proven that they are guilty of all that was reported, why should they live after their callous act?
They knew what they were doing and understandably carried it out to the letter.
This criminally intent act, which was maliciously delivered, should not hide under the clothes of “every life counts”.
What about the life they gruesomely and intentionally took?
Doesn’t it matter?
I think that as a society, we must find a way to determine the “intent” of the murder cases, because it appears opponents of the abolishment of the death penalty may have a case.
By Wodewole Emmanuel,
Odorgonno Senior High School.