Cletus Avoka, Member of Parliament for the Zibilla East Constituency in the Upper East Region
Cletus Avoka, Member of Parliament for the Zibilla East Constituency in the Upper East Region

Death penalty appeals more to victims' families than life imprisonment - Cletus Avoka

Scrapping the death penalty in Ghana will embolden criminals to commit more heinous crimes, the Member of Parliament for the Zibilla East Constituency in the Upper East Region, Cletus Avoka has said.

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He believes that handing death sentences to offenders who deserve it as prescribed in Ghana’s laws will appeal more to the families of the victims.

There is a private member Bill in Parliament seeking to amend Ghana's Criminal Offences Act to replace or substitute the death penalty sentence with life imprisonment.

In a radio interview monitored by Graphic Online on Accra-based 3Fm on Friday afternoon, July 14, 2023, Mr. Avoka said "the death penalty appeals more to the emotions of the victim's family than the life imprisonment."

Ghana has not carried any execution of those on death penalty since 1992 although there are a number of people on the list in the country’s prisons. 

The Zebilla East MP is of the view that slapping offenders who deserve death sentences will aggravate the pains and trauma of families that lose members to such offenders.

He said the death sentence also serves as a major deterrent to offenders although those on such punishment list had not been executed in the country for a very long time.

For him, the sponsors of the bill "have not adequately addressed the side of the victim", stressing that "If you are a victim of murder and you leave behind your family" the pain it leaves them cannot be equated with the life imprisonment.

Mr. Avoka further expressed concern that the country’s political system will make it easier for people on the life imprisonment to find escape route.

For him, once somebody is given life sentence instead of death sentence and spends a few years in prison and there is a change of government or that person has well-to-do family, they can push an agenda to get the person freed.

That, he added, will upset the families of the victims and therefore before such an amendment to the Criminal Offences Act, there should be more education on that to the entire populace than just “smuggling in the bill.”

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