The Amnesty International Ghana has reiterated its call on government to expunge the death penalty and use other forms of punishment to deter commitment of crimes in the country.
According to the human right organisation, abolishing the death penalty would reinforce Ghana’s commitment to protecting human rights.
The acting Director of Amnesty International Ghana, Mr Frank Doyi made the call at the launch of Amnesty International’s Global Death Penalty Report in Accra yesterday.
He said, “Ghana has an international human right obligation to respect and protect human life without discrimination so we urge authorities to expedite action in abolishing the inhumane act,”
He revealed that, a total of 17 offenders were handed the death sentence in the country last year but were not executed, adding that so far, 148 people were under death sentence out of which seven were foreign nationals.
He indicated that, globally, there was 37 per cent decrease in the number of executions carried out with China recording the highest number of executions.
According to Mr Doyi, Iran was responsible for the overall decrease in the number of executions, dropped by 42 per cent and Pakistan, 73 per cent.
Describing the practice as cruel, he explained that, the manner in which the death sentence was imposed on offenders and the conditions of detention on death row breach the prohibition on torture and inhuman punishment.
Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Ghana is a signatory, he said, recognises the right to life set out restrictions to the use of the death penalty for countries that still retained the punishment in its legislation.
Mr Doyi noted that, despite the decrease in the overall number of executions, 2016 remained higher than the average recorded for the previous decade.
The acceptance of the proposal for the abolishment of the death penalty by government he said would provide a unique opportunity for Ghana to fully commit to the protection of internationally recognised human rights.
“Some countries remain recalcitrant but we will not be discouraged. Amnesty International will continue to monitor and bring to the fore report on the penalty as parts of our efforts to push of its abolishment,” he stressed.
Speaking at the event, Ms Yvonne Atakara Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecutors, Judicial Service, commended the human rights organisation for their commitment to advocating for the abolishment of the death penalty globally.
She stated that government was keen on implementing policies that would improve the lives of Ghanaians saying that “government is aware of its obligations under the United Nations (UN) right so we will do our best to ensure we come up with measures to address the issue”.
The former Director of Amnesty International Ghana, Mr Lawrence Amesu reiterated the need for government to as a matter of urgency, review the 1992 constitution to remove the mandatory death sentence for persons convicted of high treason and to prohibit the execution of citizens by the state.
He also called for the amendment of section 13 (2) of the constitution to restrict the circumstances under which lethal force could be used.
By Raissa Sambou