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27.03.2004 General News

Amnesty report calls for the abolishment of death penalty

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Accra, March 27, GNA- Amnesty International (AI) Report for 2003, was on Friday launched in Accra with a call on governments in the sub region to abolish the death penalty in law and in practice.

Instead, the report recommends that governments should rather introduce a moratorium on executions and respect international standards restricting the scope of the death penalty for fair trial in capital cases. The report commended Ghana for not submitting any report of human rights violations.

Mrs Justice Georgina Wood, a judge of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court of Gambia who launched the book said governments should also end extra judicial executions and disappearances.

She said the fact that Ghana, did not submit any report for 2003 does mean that everything was right, adding, there were many human rights abuses going on in the country.

"This should be a source of great encouragement and we should rather improve on our past achievements that will lead to peace, security and stability for economic and development growth"

The report called for prompt, thorough, independent and infective investigations into political killings and disappearances and ensure that those responsible for such human rights violations are brought to justice". The report documents human rights issues of concern, reflects the activities that AI has undertaken during the year to promote human rights and campaign against specific human rights abuses.

The core of the 311-page report is made up of entries on individual countries and territories, which gives a summary of the human rights situation in a country or territory and describes AI's specific human rights concerns there.

Mrs Justice Wood said governments in the sub-region should ensure that prison conditions do not amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in line with international standards for the treatment of prisoners.

"AI works against grave abuses of the right to freedom from discrimination and those who are imprisoned solely on the ground such as sex, religion or ethnicity are considered prisoners of conscience. Governments should take measures to prevent discrimination, not only by their own officials or private individual."

Touching on asylum seekers and refugees, the report urged governments in the sub region to have access to a fair and impartial individual asylum, and ensure that they were not arbitrarily detained or otherwise put under pressure.

The report urged governments to adopt and implement laws and regulations to prohibit arms exports unless it could be reasonably demonstrated that arms will not contribute to serious human rights violations, crimes against humanity or war crimes. It called on states to ratify international and regional human rights instruments without reservations, respect the provisions of the use of the instrument.

Mr Steve Kuada, Chairman of the Amnesty International, Ghana, said the human rights as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) had over 1.5 million members in over 140 countries throughout the world. He said AI forms global community of human rights defenders who are committed to principles of international solidarity, of effective action on behalf of individuals, of global coverage and of democracy and mutual respect.

Mr Kuada appealed to governments in the sub region to recognise that the inherent dignity and fundamental rights of everyone is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the sub-region.

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