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Amnesty International rallies support for death penalty abolition

BY: Elizabeth Konadu-Boakye
Juliet Kaingbanja (2nd from left), Administrative Officer, Amnesty International, Ghana Section, addressing the meeting. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA
Juliet Kaingbanja (2nd from left), Administrative Officer, Amnesty International, Ghana Section, addressing the meeting. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA

Amnesty International, a human rights advocacy body, has appealed to all stakeholders to join hands and submit a memorandum in support of the Private Members Bill before Parliament towards the abolition of the death penalty.

It said the memorandum would facilitate the passage of the bill which it said had been long overdue.
Amnesty International made the appeal when its executive members paid a courtesy call to the Executive Director of Crime Check Foundation in his office in Accra yesterday

The Campaign and Communication Coordinator for Amnesty International Ghana, Belinda Asamanyuah, said over the years, in seeking the abolition of the penalty, it realised that constitutional reviews through a referendum would be expensive for the organisation and the country.

She further stated that through the advice of a legal team, the organisation decided to advocate for a life imprisonment sentence instead of the death penalty.

Strategy

"Our strategy has changed to an advocacy approach grounded on sound legal advice which now focuses on amending the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) to abolish 96 per cent of the provisions relating to the use of the death penalty and the Ghana Armed Forces Act, 1662 (Act 105)," she said.


That approach, Ms Asamanyuah said, sought to demonstrate that the organisation's quest in abolishing capital punishment could be largely achieved without necessarily amending the 1992 Constitution as that seemed to be a long-term goal.

Through many efforts, she stated that the Deputy Ranking Member of the Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs and Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, took up the issue and introduced a Private Member’s Bill, which had been read and referred to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee.

“Now we have gotten to a stage where the committee is requesting a memorandum in support of the bill that is before them and as co-sponsors of the bill, we are paying courtesy calls on all organisations that share similar visions with us, especially in the fight for the right to life and the right for prisoners as well,” Ms Asamanyuah added.

She, therefore, called on the Executive Director of Crime Check Foundation to support their organisation by submitting a memorandum that would facilitate the passage of the bill.

Reality

The Executive Director of Crime Check Foundation, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng, said the move by Amnesty International Ghana was a worthy cause, adding that the abolition of the death penalty law was long overdue.

He, however, stated that apart from the abolition of the death penalty law, there was more that needed to be done with regard to the life of prisoners in the country.

Mr Kwarteng called on the organisation to turn their watch and focus on other fundamental human rights of prisoners in the country.

“I am saying that because I have been to the prisons and I can state with authority that the situation over there is very terrible and they need help. We need to narrow into the reality on the ground,” he said.

He pledged his support to the organisation and expressed the hope for more collaborations in making the life of prisoners in the country better.