Death penalty: Parliament debates on whether or not to abolish it
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has deferred the debate on whether or not Ghana should abolish the dëath penalty from its statutes.
This move is to allow for more consultation and more Members of Parliament (MPs) to debate the proposed amendment before a decision is taken on the bill.
Though some Majority MPs agreed with their colleagues on the Minority side, for the passage of the bill, it was referred to a latter day as the debate on the issue deepened.
A private members bill, sponsored by MP for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, is seeking to amend the Criminal Offences Act to abolish the death penalty and replace same with life imprisonment and reform the criminal justice system to meet the needs of emerging societies.
The report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Bill recommended its passage because a stakeholder engagement with stakeholders revealed that “the dèath penalty should be replaced with life imprisonment”.
Mr Sosu, moving the motion for the second reading of the Bill, said political, religious consensus has been reached on the abolishment of the “colonial relic”, bequeathed to Ghana with only seven of the 56 Commonwealth countries, which Ghana is a member, still have the law on their books.
Ranking Member on the Committee and MP for Akatsi South, Bernard Ahiafor, presenting the report, said keeping the death penalty, made mockery of justice in the country, which has become a de facto abolitionist state.
A former Deputy Minister of Justice and MP for Bolgatanga East, Dr Dominic Ayine, said “sometimes due to human fallibilities, innocent people may be sentenced to death. It is not possible to bring a person back to life after the person is executed if he was innocent.”
For James Agalga, MP for Builsa North, and a former Deputy Minister of the Interior, as a respected member of the comity of nations, Ghana could not be signing on international conventions and treaties that frown upon fealty penalty and be keeping it as part of its laws.
However, Bawku West MP, Cletus Avoka, said arguments in favour of the proposed amendment were unmeritorious, lopsided and that “those who kill do not deserve to live.”
He said there should be no fears of judicial uncertainty considering the rigorous and laborious trial system of murder cases.
The Second Deputy Majority Whip and MP for Tolon, Habib Iddrisu, who also opposed the amendment, said justification for the amendment was uncalled for as the death penalty serves as a deterrent to others.
He said: “Both Muslims and Christians believe in the “an eye for an eye” principle. (If we allow this to pass and the) instance where you know very well that when you kill, you will still be alive, people will just be taking people’s lives knowing very well they won’t die after all.
“For the fact that no president for a while has been able to issue execute warrant, we should still keep it in our books because it will serve as deterrent and because society has an obligation to look to the welfare of its citizens”.
Other proponents of the Bill included B.T. Baba, Talensi; Helen Adwoa Ntoso, MP, Krachi West; Mahama Ayariga, Bawku Central and Andy Appiah Kubi, Asante Akim North with Sports Minister, MP for Yagaba/Kubori, Mustapha Ussif, kicking against the Bill.