By Iddi Yire/Mohammed Abdul Rashid, GNA
Accra, April 11, GNA – The Amnesty International (AI), a human rights group, has urged the Government of Ghana to abolish the death penalty.
Mr Frank Doyi, the Acting Director, AI Ghana, said: “The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice.”
He said the death penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
He said Ghana`s retentionist policy of the death penalty was out of step with the rest of the world; stating that abolition of the death penalty would reinforce Ghana`s commitment to human rights.
Mr Doyi made the appeal on Tuesday in Accra during the launch of the Amnesty International Global Report: Death Sentences and Executions 2016”.
He said Article 13 of the 1992 Ghanaian Constitution guarantees the right to life, however the same article allows for the death penalty.
He noted that Article 3(3) provides for mandatory death sentence for the persons convicted of high treason.
“We call on the Government of Ghana to expedite action on the review of the 1992 Constitution to: Amend articles 3 (3) and 13 (1) of the 1992 Constitution to remove the mandatory death sentence for persons convicted of high treason (3(3)) and to prohibit the execution of the citizens by the state (13(1)),” he said.
He noted that according to information that the Ghana Prisons Service provided to AI, no executions were carried out in 2016, whilst 17 death sentences were imposed.
Mr Doyi said at the end of the year, 148 people were under sentence of death, seven of whom were foreign nationals - five Togolese, one Burkinabe and one Nigerian; adding that four commutations were granted and one person was exonerated.
He said Ghana had international human rights obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights for everyone within its juisdiction, without discrimination.
“These human rights include the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to a fair trial,” Mr Doyi stated.
“Ghana has explicitly accepted obligations in regard to these rights in the international and regional human rights treaties which it has ratified, including the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” he added.
He said Ghana had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
He said the acceptance of the proposal for the abolition of the death penalty would provide a unique opportunity for Ghana to truly and fully commit to the protection of the internationally recognise human rights.
Dr Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah, AI Board Member, said government’s white paper on the constitutional review report backs the abolishing of the death penalty in Ghana.
He therefore, appealed to government to ensure that a referendum was held to approve the appropriate constitutional amendments.
“What we need is for government to protect us from our killers, rather than kill our killers,” he added.
Mr Ron Strikker, the Dutch Ambassador to Ghana said his country and the European Union would support every effort by Ghana to abolish the death penalty.
Mr Lawrence Amesu, retired Director, AI Ghana, who chaired the event, said at the time AI started advocating for the abolishing of the death penalty, there were only 18 countries that had done that, but now the number had progress to 104.
He said AI looks forward to seeing the day when there would be no death penalty in the world.
Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecution, Attorney General’s Department, said “It is gratifying to note that we all want an end to the death penalty”.
She said after the necessary constitutional procedures had been met, government would hold a referendum on the recommendations of the constitutional review committee; which would lead to the abolishing of the death penalty.