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Government accepts to abolish death penalty

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Amnesty International Ghana (AIG) on Thursday commended government for accepting the Constitutional Review Commission’s recommendation to abolish the death penalty in the revised Constitution.

 Mr Lawrence Amesu, Director of AIG, said this during the launch of Amnesty International’s death penalty 2012 report in Accra.

He, however, urged government to take urgent action to implement the recommendation as the continuous retention of the death penalty clause in the Constitution could be used "one day as it happened in The Gambia in August last year"

He said 27 people (all men) were sentenced to death in Ghana in 2012 even though the orders were yet to be carried out.

He said per the report from the Ghana Prisons Service, the total number of people sentenced to death in Ghana as of December 2012 was 162 men and four women.

He said in 2012, Amnesty International recorded state executions in 21 countries and the Republic of China remained the leading culprit with over 1,000 confirmed executions in 2012 followed by Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and USA.

“In Africa, there were 19 executions in Sudan, nine in Gambia, six in Somalia, five in South Sudan and two in Botswana”, he said.

He said the death penalty abolitionist countries rose to 97 in 2012 from 80 countries in 2003, an indication that the crusade for the abolition of the death penalty was gradually being achieved.

ACP Paul Awini, Director of Operations at the Ghana Police Service, on behalf of the Inspector General of Police, noted that the sanctity of life could not be toyed with and it was therefore important that the death penalty be abolished from Ghana’s Constitution.

Mrs Patience Baffoe Bonnie, Head of Legal Department of the Ghana Prison Service said, the service operated within the law and would accordingly comply if the laws were changed concerning the death penalty.

She, however, challenged the AIG not to rely solely on abolishing the death penalty but also ensure that conditions at the various prisons were improved to enable inmates to enjoy their basic human rights.-GNA