Mr. Francis-Xavier Sosu, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, has rallied Ghanaians to support efforts to abolish the death penalty in Ghana.
He also appealed to his fellow MPs, as well as civil society organisations and all other stakeholders, to support his efforts to get Parliament to pass the Private Members’ Bill on the Abolition of the Death Penalty, which he had set in motion in the House.
Mr. Sosu made the appeal in a speech read on his behalf at the Death Penalty Abolition Campaign in Ghana Stakeholder Briefing Workshop in Accra.
The workshop, which was organised by Amnesty International Ghana (AI Ghana), brought together stakeholders such as the Death Penalty Abolition Coalition, human rights civil society organisations, human rights lawyers, as well as the media.
Mr Sosu, who is also the Deputy Ranking Member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, briefed the workshop on the progress of work done in Parliament towards the abolishing of the death penalty.
He argued that the imperfections and frailties with the Judicial System meant that people could be killed only for future evidence to exonerate them.
He, therefore, suggested two ways in which the death penalty could be abolished: First, by way of the Constitutional Amendment and secondly, by the Amendment of various provisions in the Criminal and Other Offences Act (Act 29) that prescribe the death penalty as a form of punishment.
He said due to the related delays and financial cost associated with the amendment of Act 3 of the 1992 Constitution, he recommends a much speedy approach: Thus, Amendment of Sections 46, 49(a), 180, 194 and 317(a) of the Criminal and Other Offences Act (Act 29) to achieve 95 percent of abolishing of the death penalty as a form of punishment.
Mr Sosu reiterated that the 8th Parliament was the best place and had a unique opportunity to change the course of history in Ghana and join Sierra Leone as shining examples in West Africa and on the African Continent by completely removing the death penalty from the statute books.
“I wish to state that I believe the processes set in motion on the floor of Parliament will lead to abolishing at least 95 percent of the death penalty in Ghana,” Mr Sosu said.
“I, however, entreat us to have more stakeholders’ engagements on the subject; provide aggressive education and sensitization on the need to Abolish Death Penalty, and undertake more lobbying to get the Bill over the line.”
Dr. Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah, a Member of the Expert Panel on Death Penalty Abolition, AI, reiterated that AI was committed to the abolition of the death penalty and replacing it with a life sentence without parole; adding that they had formed a coalition to work for that.
Mr. Frank Doyi, Executive Director, AI Ghana, said as a human rights organisation, AI works for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights without distinction; saying “one of the key areas of our works is the abolition of the death penalty”.
“We have been campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty in Ghana for a very long time, and we believe that the time is now right for all civil society organisations and individuals who believe in the protection of human rights to come around and to support the call for the abolition of the death penalty.”
He reiterated that the death penalty must be abolished because it violates the right to life.
Mr Samuel Agbotsey, Campaign and Fundraising Coordinator, AI Ghana, said AI Ghana upon realizing that the implementation of the Constitutional Review Commission’s recommendation to abolish the death penalty had stalled, the strategy was changed to an advocacy approach grounded on sound legal advice, which now focuses on amending the Criminal Offences Act, Act 29 (1960) to abolish 96 percent of the provisions relating to the use of the death penalty.
He said this new approach seeks to demonstrate that the quest to abolish capital punishment as a country could be largely achieved without necessarily amending the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.