Death penalty abolished in Ghana

Death penalty abolished in Ghana

Parliament has passed the Criminal Offences (Amend­ment) Bill 2022 into law, to abolish the death sentence pen­alty from the country’s statutes.

Persons found guilty of murder, if the president assents to it, henceforth, would be sentenced to life imprisonment, the new law provides.

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, on Friday, July 14, 2023, deferred the decision on the report of the Constitutional, Legal and Parlia­mentary Affairs Committee on the Bill to get more MPs involved in the decision.

The object of the Bill, the report of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Com­mittee report on the bill states, is to “reform the criminal justice system of Ghana to meet the needs of an emerging society and to bring it in tandem with inter­national best practices of criminal jurisprudence”.

Proponent of the private member Bill and MP for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, argues that having not executed since 1993, Ghana has become an “abolitionist de facto state” and with a global shift from death penalty to life imprisonment, she must repeal the death sentence.

The bill has divided opinions in the House with some members, across the aisle opposed to it, but as parliamentary democracy dic­tates, majority carried the day.

When Mr Sosu, moved the motion for the second reading of the Bill on July 14, he said political, religious consensus had been reached on the abolishment of the “colonial relic” bequeathed to the Ghanaian government.

He said of the 56 Common­wealth countries, which Ghana is a member, only seven, including Ghana still have the law on their books.

But, leading the opposition to the amendment, Zebila MP, Cletus Avoka, said arguments in favour of the proposed amendment were unmeritorious, lop-sided and that those who kill do not deserve to live.

Other MPs who opposed the Bill, are Second Deputy Majority Whip and MP for Tolon, Habib Iddrisu; Sports Minister and MP for Yagaba/Kubori, Mustapha Ussif and MP for Hemang Lower Denkyira and Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Rela­tions, Bright Wireko-Brobby.

At the consideration stage, how­ever, on Tuesday, some MPs who support the passage of the bill wanted conditions under which a pardon could be granted to be provided to ensure presidents don’t do so capriciously.

Led by Alhaji Moham­med-Mubarak Muntaka, Member, Asawase, they posited that a per­son found guilty of murder could only qualify to be granted pardon after serving 25 years in prison.

Backing Alhaji Muntaka, Dr Dominic Ayine, MP, Bolgatanga East, said pegging the qualifica­tion for pardon at 25 years would sit with the “lawful condition” provision in Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution.

But, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bon­su, Majority Leader and MP for Suame and Akatsi South MP and Ranking Member on the Constitu­tional, Legal and Parliamentary Af­fairs Committee, Bernard Ahiafor, said doing so would be amending the constitution through the “back door”.

Since independence, Ghana has executed 49 persons with the majority of those killings during military regimes. The last group to be executed were 12 in July 1993 for armed robbery and murder.


Joyceline Natally Cudjoe

An Entertainment Columnist, Content Writer, Blogger, Novelist, Poet, and a Publicist. For business or story tip off, contact me on +233 24 646 6866 or email: [email protected]

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