137 people on death roll

A TOTAL of 137 people, comprising 134 males and three females, are currently on the country’s death row awaiting execution.

Out of the number, seven are foreign nationals and 130 are Ghanaians.

These were contained in the Amnesty International’s 2015 Global Death Penalty report released in Accra yesterday.

The report noted that no executions were carried out in Ghana last year, though 18 death sentences were imposed.

The President, John Dramani Mahama last year commuted 14 death sentences to life imprisonment .

“The report noted that the 18 death sentences imposed last year, constituted an increase of 100 per cent death sentences imposed in Ghana during the period, compared to the 2014 figure of nine death sentences,” the report said.

It listed Ghana as one of the countries in which Amnesty International recorded a worrying increase in the number of death sentences imposed last year.

Mr. Lawrence Amesu, Director of Amnesty International, Ghana Section, therefore, called on the government, to as a matter of urgency, ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a step towards the total abolition of the death penalty.

He said government’s plans to put to a referendum, recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) requiring changes to the Constitution, including the removal of the death penalty, were not implemented last year, due to a court case brought to stall the process.

“We are happy that the Supreme Court of Ghana has now cleared the road for the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee to continue its work towards the review of the 1992 constitution. We hope that when the issue is brought to public domain for the Ghanaian public to decide, the people will make a right choice of rejecting the death penalty,” he added.

Mr. Amesu urged Ghana to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and become the 103rd abolitionist in the world.

“We would like to encourage Ghana to move away from the minority group of countries in the world which would like to continue to retain the barbaric death penalty, and join the majority and progressive group of countries who have abolished or are abolishing the death penalty,” he urged.

He observed that in West Africa, francophone countries like Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso were fast moving towards abolition of the death penalty whilst Anglophone countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the Gambia were clinging firmly unto it.

Mr. George Aggrey, Board Chairman of Amnesty International Ghana, disclosed that a total of 1,634 people were executed globally in 2015, a rise of more than 50 per cent of the year before and the highest number Amnesty International had recorded since 1989.

He said the top five executioners in the world in 2015 were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and USA.

By Joseph Edu Archison

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