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Death penalty is still relevant – Speaker Oquaye

Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has said that the death penalty should remain on Ghana’s statute books to scare murderers. 

He said in that circumstance, the state would reserve the right to determine whether the death penalty should be carried out or not, depending on the circumstances leading to the murder. 

The Speaker shared his opinion on the floor of Parliament when he was summing up the contributions from Members of Parliament during a motion to approve the three Supreme Court judges. 

Most of the contributions were centred on the frank manner the judges had answered topical issues such as the death penalty and the capping of the number of judges to the Supreme Court.

For instance, Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, in response to what she thought of the death penalty said, she felt horrible that the death penalty still remained in the statute books. 

She explained that despite the fact that the victim of a death penalty might have infringed on the right of another person, there was the possibility of human error being committed in conviction, in so far as the Judiciary was comprised of human beings. 

The judge argued that the difficulty under such a situation would be the reversal of the punishment after it had been enforced. 

Justice Lovelace-Johnson recounted her experience when she sat as a judge of the assizes where she had to administer the death sentence, adding that the experience changed her perception about the death sentence.

However, Speaker Oquaye felt removing the death penalty entirely from the statute books could encourage people to kill knowing very well that they would be spared. 

He explained that these days when people could walk to church or mosque to engage in mass killings of worshippers, it was not the time to remove the death penalty in the books. 

The Speaker said the death penalty should remain in the books to serve as deterrent with the state exercising the prerogative to execute or not.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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