GHANA: PARLIAMENT VOTES TO ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY
|Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo
July 26, 2023:
Ghana's parliament on July 25, 2023 voted to abolish the death penalty, making the country the latest of several African nations that have moved to repeal capital punishment in recent years. (Sources: Reuters, 25/07/2023; The Guardian, 26/07/2023)
The decision means that the 176 people currently on death row, including six women, are likely to have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
The new bill will amend the state's Criminal Offences Act to substitute life imprisonment for the death penalty, removing the use of capital punishment for crimes including murder, genocide, piracy and smuggling, according to a parliamentary committee report.
The death sentence can still be given for acts of high treason, and campaigners cautioned that the country’s constitution would have to change for a complete removal of the penalty.
Ghana has not carried out an execution since 1993, but courts have continued to hand down death sentences, including seven last year.
The country’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, needs to sign the bill into law before it comes into force.
"This is a great advancement of the human rights record of Ghana," said Francis-Xavier Sosu, the parliamentarian who tabled the bill.
"We have conducted research, from the constitutional review to opinion polls, and they all show that majority of Ghanaians want the death penalty removed," he told Reuters.
Ghana is the 29th country to abolish the death penalty in Africa and the 124th globally, according to The Death Penalty Project, a London-based NGO which said it worked alongside partners in Ghana to help get the law changed.
Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Zambia are among the latest African states to have ended capital punishment in the last two years.