CSOs appeal to President to pardon people on death row
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have appealed to the President to pardon those on death row and commute their sentences to life imprisonment.
They made the appeal at a round table discussion as part of programmes to mark the 21st commemoration of the Death Penalty in Accra yesterday which was organised by Amnesty International.
Various speakers at the event said those currently on death row had the benefit of the abolition of the death penalty as no one on the death row had been executed since 1993.
Ghana abolished the death penalty with the exception of high treason in July this year through a private member’s Bill led by Francis-Xavier Sosu, Member of Parliament (NDC) for Madina.
The Country Director of Amnesty International, Genevieve Partington, said pardoning of those on death row will "improve the country's reputation and standing in the global community”.
“It will also help maintain consistency in our legal system that values the preservation of human lives," she added.
Ms Partington further said that it would also allow the rehabilitation and personal growth of inmates who had turned their lives around.
The Founder of Advocate for Fair Legal Access, Ghana, Rita Nupe Demuyakor, described conditions at the condemned cell as terrible and inhumane.
“They come out for an hour or two to enjoy the sunshine.
Mentally, they go through a lot," she said.
The Executive Director of Perfector of Sentiments (POS) Foundation, Jonathan Osei Owusu, acknowledged the role played by various stakeholders in advocating the abolishment of the death penalty.
The discussants were also unanimous that commuting the sentences of those on death penalty would resolve infrastructural challenges, especially for male prisoners.
There are about 185 prisoners on the death row, out of which six are females.
Facilities for males serving life sentences which were for 10, 265, now accommodate more than15,000 inmates.
They also entreated international organisations to lend financial support to provide adequate accommodation for the prisoners.
Mr Sosu asked the CSOs to take advantage of the goodwill the President exhibited during the passage of the Anti-death Penalty Bill.
“If you consider the role of the President in the abolition process, I have no doubt he showed a lot of commitment, and so it will be easy to take advantage of the goodwill,” he added.
Amnesty International presented plaques of appreciation to Martin Kpebu and Mr Sosu for their immense contributions towards deepening the frontiers of human rights.
The French Ambassador to Ghana, Jules-Armand Aniambossou, assisted by Amnesty International Ghana Board Chair, Francis Nyantakyi, presented the mementos to them.
The ambassador applauded Ghana for achieving a key milestone in abolishing the death penalty.
He said it took many years of advocacy and amendments for France to also abolish the death penalty some 42 years ago.
Ghana became the 24th African country and the 124th globally to abolish the death penalty, although high treason offence still attracts the ultimate punishment.