NINE people, including a female, were sentenced to death from January to August this year, as against 18 last year.
The number included the 147 who have been on death row for either committing murder, treason or other high state offences.
The Director of Prisons in charge of Operations and Agriculture, Mr. Sylvester K.B. Rabbles, disclosed this to the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday, on the sidelines of the launch of the West Africa Death Penalty Advocacy Toolkit in Accra.
The toolkit is a an advocacy document that highlights and explains terminologies such as abolitionist, retentionist, clemency, exoneration, pardon among others to be used to solicit support in the quest to abolish death penalty.
Mr. Rabbles indicated that the President could grant pardon for any of them based on Article 72 of the Constitution on the recommendation of Prisons Council that the person had been of good character or industry.
However, he said, for an inmate’s sentence to be committed from death to life, that person should have served at least 10 years on death row and was of good conduct as well.
The Director of Ghana Office of Amnesty International, Mr. Lawrence Amesu said his outfit wanted death penalty to be abolished.
‘We continue to strengthen our call for the abolition of death penalty in Ghana in particular and the world as a whole’, he said.
He said 18 countries in Africa have so far abolished the penalty since 1977 when Amnesty International started campaigning for the abolition.
Mr. Amesu stated that though West Africa was leading ‘the progressive forward march’ in that quest, what was worrying however was that Anglophone countries in West Africa, including Ghana appeared to be dragging their feet, while the Francophone countries, including Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso have either abolished or were in the process of abolishing the penalty,” Mr. Amesu said.
“Of course, we cannot say that nothing has been achieved towards this forward match in Ghana’ noting that their campaign had contributed significantly to the fact that Ghana was now considered as an abolisnist in practice Mr. Amesu said.
The country, he said, had not executed anyone since 1993 though the courts continued to sentence people to death.
He said his outfit, with the support of civil society organisations made recommendation to the Constitutional Review Commission to have the penalty abolished.
Mr. Amesu said his office had discussed with stakeholders the challengers and the way forward.
Three members from Amnesty International, UK and Dakar gave scenarios why the penalty should be abolished.
The officials, Ms. Sabrina Mahtani, Ms. Sabrina Tucci and Mr. Oluwatosin Popoola were of the view that non of such sentences had either stopped crime or prevented people from committing heinous crimes, rather what the accused required was counseling and appealed to bereaved families to temper justice with mercy.
By Francis Asamoah Tuffour