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30.05.2007 General News

113 await death at Nsawam Prisons

By myjoyonline
The Condemned Cells at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons are currently holding 113 inmates awaiting execution.

The prisoners, all men aged between 20 and 65 are on death row following convictions of murder and armed robbery with the longest serving convict having been in the cells for 10 years.

But the Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Prison Service, Augustine Bopam suggested that the prisoners on death row might not be executed, basing his conclusion on the fact since 1993 Ghana had not invoked the death penalty on any prisoner on death row.

His optimism coincides with an intervention from the human rights body, Amnesty International (Ghana) Group 22 of Suhum for Ghana to join other countries in the abolition of capital punishment.

In a letter to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joe Ghartey, the group said it had observed for several years, a trend in favor of the abolition of the death penalty in Africa and West Africa with Senegal and Liberia following suit since 2004.

"Ghana seems to fit in the movement and we are very pleased to learn that in 2005 you (Mr Ghartey) publicly stated your position on the death penalty," it noted.

The letter urged the Attorney General and Minister of Justice "to take all the necessary measures to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".

It asked Mr Ghartey to do everything in his power to adopt a moratorium on all executions and urged him to appeal to President Kufuor to use his prerogative of mercy, as he did in 2003 to commute all death sentences.

On the situation in the prisons at the moment, Bopam said it was only the President of the Republic who could exercise the prerogative of mercy under Article 72 of the Constitution to commute the death sentence on the 113 prisoners to life imprisonment by way of amnesty.

He said on the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Ghana's Independence, President Kufuor on the recommendation of the Prison Service Council and in consultation with the Council of State commuted the death sentence on 36 prisoners on death row to life imprisonment.

He said commuting death sentence to life imprisonment was not rare in the country with the last but one being carried out in 2003.

Source: Daily Graphic