After amending the Criminal and Other Offenses Act, Ghana’s parliament officially removed the death sentence from its law books.
The amending measure, presented by Madina MP Francis Xavier Sosu, was approved on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, and now awaits the president’s signature.
Alexander Afenyo-Markin, Deputy Majority Leader, expressed happiness with the amendment’s passage, saying it is cause for celebration, especially considering international human rights agencies’ rejection of the death penalty provision as repulsive.
The amendment of the Criminal and Other Offences Act opens the path for new forms of sentencing, as the death penalty, which had been in existence for over 50 years, has now been repealed, according to Mr Afenyo-Markin.
According to the Effutu MP, the move to eliminate the death sentence is not an endorsement of murder.
He emphasized that human life is sacred and should not be taken just to punish a crime.
He did, however, clarify that the repeal does not encourage those who perpetrate such crimes.
Instead of the death penalty, life imprisonment will now be used, ensuring that perpetrators will not be able to re-enter society and potentially commit similar crimes.
The death penalty in Ghana has long been a subject of debate, with civil society organisations advocating for its abolition. Previously, capital punishment was mandatory for certain offenses, including murder, treason, and genocide.
However, Ghana has not executed any convicts on death row since 1993, the year of the country’s return to civilian rule. At that time, twelve people convicted of armed robbery or murder were executed by firing squad.
Amnesty International’s report from the end of 2020 revealed that 160 individuals, comprising 155 men and five women, were under sentence of death in Ghana. Among them were six foreign nationals, one from Benin, two from Burkina Faso, and three from Nigeria.