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24.03.2009 Social News

AI launches report on death penalty


Amnesty International (AI) Ghana on Tuesday said it was opposed to the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender or the method used to kill the prisoner.

It said the death penalty was the ultimate denial of human rights. It was the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state, adding that this was a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment done in the name of justice.

Speaking at the launch of the Death Penalty Statistics in Accra, Mr. Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah, Board Chairman of AI, said: “It is carried out in the name of the nation's entire population and affects everyone. Everyone should be aware of what the death penalty is, how it is used, how it affects them and how it violates fundamental rights.”

The AI, which has campaigned for the abolition since 1977 publishes statistics on death penalty annually as one of its most important media events despite the fact that over half of the world is moving away from death penalty. Debate is, however, still alive in a number of countries to either retain or introduce the death penalty as a deterrent to crime.

According to AI statistics 2,390 people were known to have been executed in 25 countries in 2008.

It said 92 countries had abolished the death penalty in law and practice in 2008 and another 10 had also abolished the death penalty for some crimes. In Africa, countries such as Togo, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire had taken steps to abolish it.

The AI Chairman said in May 2008, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommended that Ghana abolished the death penalty.

Mr Adzahlie-Mensah said Ms Florence Nakazikwe, Death Penalty Coordinator, Amnesty International Research, had shown that the death penalty was often applied in discriminatory manner and used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial ethnic and religious communities, especially imposed after a grossly unfair trial.

She explained that the death penalty had not been proved to have any deterrent effect.

She said China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and

the US recorded a high number of state sanctioned
killing through beheading, stoning and lethal injections.

Mr. Tuinesse Edward Amuzu, Executive Director, Legal Resource Centre, said it was hypocritical to impose the death penalty but not carry out executions. He therefore called on the government to abolish it because it violated the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He said the absence of the death penalty was the permanent measure of civilization, human rights awareness and humility.

Mr Amuzu said the country's judicial system had too many flaws which made it possible to sentence people to death and not give them room to seek redress.

He was of the view that it was better to take freedom away from perpetrators of heinous crimes and leave them to their conscience than take their lives and end it all for them.

According to Mr Amuzu, execution did not reduce crimes but rather instigated followers and generations of such people to perpetuate more crimes to atone for such state perpetuated torture and killings.