By: Belinda Asamanyuah, GIJ
Amnesty International, a globally recognized human rights advocate organization, has launched its 2017 Global Death Penalty report on Thursday, April 12, at the Christ the King Cathedral in Accra with a call on government to abolish death penalty.
The aim of the event, was to appeal to the government to remove the death penalty article contained in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. The launch was also to give the general overview of the report in terms of facts and figures.
Speaking at the launch, the country Director of Amnesty International, Mr. Robert Akoto Amoafo said, the 2017 Death Penalty Report, identified global trends of the use of death penalty, as well as the significant changes that had occurred during the course of practicing the death penalty.
The Amnesty International boss, also gave empirical statistics for the use of death penalty in the Ghana’s jurisprudence over the years.
In his presentation, he added that the report gave regional data on death penalty and sometimes sub-regional data. It also identified areas in the world where the death sentences were carried out.
The report, further highlighted the reasons for carrying out death sentences and modes of executing it.
A Journalist with Accra-based Multimedia group, Mr. Seth Kwame Boateng who attended the launch as a guest, gave a brief narration about his working visit to the Nsawam prison and the plight of prisoners on death row in Ghana.
In his chilling account, Mr. Boateng recount how at the condemned block where prisoners on death penalty are kept, which is ordinarily supposed to house twenty inmates are congested with about 160 inmates currently.
According to him, prison cells which are supposed to house 2 inmates were overcrowded between four to five prisoners.
He said, due to this situation, the inmates are highly exposed to health risks and infections such as chicken pox, measles and others.
The 2017 report, it was disclosed recorded at least a total of 993 death sentences in 23 countries. Additionally, at least 21,919 people were known to be on death row at the end of 2017, whiles 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries decreased as compared to a record of 3,117 in the year 2016.
Most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan with China recording the highest executions constituting eighty four percent (84%) in four (4) countries. The report highligted that at least five people were executed in Iran who were under eighteen (18) at that time.
Guinea and Mongolia were the two countries to abolish the death penalty in law for all crimes. Gambia also signed an international treaty committing the country not to carry out executions and to move the death penalty in law. 142 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice at the end of 2017.
In Ghana, the last execution was carried out in 1993. At least 160people are known to be under death row at the end of 2017. Seven people were sentenced to death in 2017.
However, Ghana has not abolished the practice of executions, which means, we retain the death penalty in law for all crimes but have not carried out any executions since the last 10 years.
Prison conditions continue to remain deplorable while some prisoners on death row suffer mental health issues from being on death row and not knowing when they will be killed.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty on all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of crime