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25.07.2007 Announcements

Government urged to scrap dealth penalty

By Gilbert Boyefio
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Amnesty International-Ghana, has stated that the existence of the death penalty in the statutory books of Ghana detracts substantially from the country's human rights records.

Championing the course for the abolition of the death penalty, the human rights group, urged government to marshal bold political will and courage needed, to formally abolish the death penalty in the country.

Speaking at a media advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty and the ratification of the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights, Prize McApreko, growth and activism support coordinator of partnership for growth project, calls on Government to place a moratorium on all executions and commute all death sentences to life imprisonment without the option of parole.

Describing the death penalty as a premeditated cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice, Mr McApreko noted that the death penalty is extremely cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment.

He said given Ghana's human rights records, coupled with its role as a reference point for democracy, good governance, upholding the rule of law as well as its high reputation within the international community, the continuous existence of the death penalty is a minus to the country. "The death penalty violates the rights to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of human rights to which Ghana is a signatory," he added.

With equal concern, Amnesty International-Ghana further called on government to ratify the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights as a demonstration of promoting human rights.

Speaking to The Statesman on the sideline of the programme, Mr McApreko expressed his concern over civil society's satisfaction with the idea that although the death penalty is in the Constitution, it had not been used for decades now. He said so far as the law is still in the statutory books any government can decide at any time to use it because "he has been legally empowered to do it."

He said the general public does not fully understand the effect of the death penalty, hence their lukewarm attitude toward its abolitionment.

He said Amnesty International-Ghana for 30 years now have been fighting for the abolition of the death penalty in the country. He explained that the death penalty could be used to marginalised, sidelined and intimidate people.

The human rights group is convinced that one of the most important steps a country can take to secure the human rights of everyone under its jurisdiction is to abolish the death penalty.

Over half the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Figures show that abolition does not adversely affect crime rates. In Canada, the homicide rate per 100,000 fell from 3.09 in 1975, the year before abolition, to 1.73 in 2003, the lowest rate in three decades. China account for the vast majority of the world's reported official execution.

On December 18, 2000, the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, noted that "the forfeiture of life is absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even backed by legal process; it is tragic that, while the nations debate this problem, people continue to be executed."

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