Criminal law

Ghana’s parliament votes to abolish the death penalty in the criminal code


Ghanaian lawmakers voted to remove The death penalty was part of the country’s criminal laws this week, hailing the move as a victory for the West African country.

A majority of Ghana’s parliament voted on Tuesday to pass a bill to amend the Criminal Offenses Act, replacing punishment – usually carried out by hanging or execution – with life imprisonment for offenses such as murder and piracy.

“Today, the Parliament of Ghana has made the country proud,” said Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament Alexander Kwamina Avenue Markin. Tell State-owned Ghana News Agency after the bill was passed.

“The death penalty is no longer a punishment in our law books,” he added, noting that the decision places Ghana in the “international human rights position.”

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Some 170 countries have abolished or suspended the death penalty to date. according At the United Nations, but it’s still legal in over a year 50 countries, Including the United States, China, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Ghana is the twenty-ninth African country to abolish this punishment, following in the footsteps of Chad, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Zambia and other countries.

The special members bill was introduced by legislator Francis Xavier Kojo Soso, who represents the city constituency, a suburb of the capital, Accra, in the south of the country. he Tell Reuters reported that Parliament’s decision was consistent with opinion polls in the country.

“On death row, the prisoners woke up believing that this might be their last day on earth. They were like the undead: psychologically, they were no longer human.” statement.

The statement said: “The abolition of the death penalty shows that we are determined as a society not to be inhumane, uncivilized, closed, reactionary and dark … and reflects our shared belief that the sanctity of life is inviolable.”

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo He publicly expressed support for the abolition of the death penaltyYou will need to sign the law before it officially goes into effect.

The report found that executions increased as pandemic rules eased in 2021

Human rights group Amnesty International hailed the vote as a “historic” decision.

“Today’s parliamentary vote is a major step by Ghana towards abolishing the death penalty,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, said in a press release. statement. “It is also a victory for all those who fought tirelessly to bring this cruel punishment down to history and to further protect the right to life.”

However, Daud noted that Ghana’s constitution still allows for the death penalty in treason cases, and called for a review of the constitution as well.

Death Penalty ProjectThe UK-based nonprofit said it had worked closely with Ghanaian lawmakers and interest groups to ban the punishment for all ordinary crimes. I also worked on a similar campaign in Sierra Leone in 2021.

“Today’s vote to abolish the death penalty is historic and puts Ghana squarely in the global trend,” said Saul Lehrfreund, co-executive director of the organization.

As of Monday, 172 men and six women in Ghana were on death row. according To the National Prison Service, out of a total prison population of just over 15,000 prisoners. but, No executions It has been implemented in the country since 1993.

Last year, ai registered It added that 883 executions took place in 20 countries, an increase of more than 50 percent over the previous year. This figure did not include China, where more than 1,000 executions are believed to have taken place. The group said it recorded at least 576 executions in Iran, followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United States, with 18 executions carried out in 2022.

In the United States, the number of executions, death sentences, and public support for the death penalty continued to decline for a decade in the past year, according to a 2022 report from the nonprofit. Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks data on the death penalty. but, Failed executions The report said that 35 percent of all executions remained a matter of concern.


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