The Criminal Offences Amendment Act, under consideration in Parliament of Ghana seeking to replace death penalty with life imprisonment is crucial and needs urgent passage, that’s according to the Member of Parliament for the Madina constituency, Francis-Xavier Sosu.
He argues that even though, no condemned prisoner in Ghana had been executed in over 30 years, such persons continue to remain on death row and were treated differently because of their situation, something he believe violates their rights to self-dignity and constituted a form of torture.
Speaking in an interview on The Point of View on Citi TV, the Madina legislator alluded to that fact that, the bill is of crucial interest to the advocacy of human rights, reason the President of the land, Nana Akufo-Addo supports its passage.
“The president [Nana Akufo-Addo] at the UN voted in favour of the abolishment of the death penalty for the first time, and he has even made public statements in support of the abolishment. It was the president that called for a cross-party approach to passing this bill when stakeholders called on him, and so he fully endorses and supports the position.”
Mr. Sosu emphasized that though the death penalty has not been applied since 1993, it could be used at any time by a crooked government to hunt its opponents as in the case of Myanmar.
“The government in 1991 said there were not going to be executions again, but 12 people were executed by firing squad in 1993 and from colonial times till 1993, 37 people were killed.”
“When you take the case of Myanmar, the country had not used the law for 42 years, but it was there on its books and last year when there was a military takeover, they used it against their opponents and gave legal reasons where four leaders were killed, and a hundred others were convicted to death.”
While debating the bill last week, members of the House expressed divergent views on the matter.
MP for Zebilla Constituency, Cletus Avoka said “I first submit that the arguments they have advanced in terms of the motion are very scary and have no measures at all. Arguments in favour of the motion are unmeritorious.”
Mr. Avoka further expressed concern that the country’s political system will make it easier for people on the life imprisonment to find escape route.
For him, once somebody is given life sentence instead of death sentence and spends few years in prison and there is a change of government or that person has well-to-do family, they can push an agenda to get the person freed.
That, he added, will upset the families of the victims and therefore before such an amendment to the Criminal Offences Act, there should be more education on that to the entire populace than just “smuggling in the bill.”