By Patrick Biddah
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis Xavier Sosu , has hit at his colleague Lawyers for doing little to help expunge the death penalty from the statute books of Ghana.
He said the traditional duty of the Ghana Bar Association( GBA) is to lead the way in law reforms in the country, but his colleagues have done little in that regard by remaining quiet in its advocacy.
According to him, the issue of removing the death penalty, could have easily been done if the GBA have taken more interest in this endeavour.
Speaking yesterday at the launch of the 2022 Death Penalty Report by Amnesty International, he said the GBA, is failing Ghanaians and needs to do more in living up to its mandates.
Mr Sosu who sponsored a private member’s bill in Parliament in his bid to get the death penalty repealed, recalled how the GBA did not contribute when there was advertisement for their input.
“ When an advertisement was made for various stakeholders to make input into the new bill organizations such as the Commonwealth’s Human Rights lawyers, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice , Amnesty international made inputs but the Bar Association alone was silent”, he recalled.
“The fact that they have not made an input is sad. Hope they make am input.
Inspite of this, however, the Death Penalty Bill which seeks to abolish execution as a form of punishment, according to Mr Sosu is expected to be passed when Parliament reconvene.
Since 1993 when there was an execution arising out of a various crimes committed by those who were convicted, there has not been any death penalty although there are currently 172 on death roll.
In his view, it will take leadership to expunge the Death Penalty from the country’s statute books since it takes a president to sign an execution warrant when one is sentenced to execution.
“ As it stands, you cannot blame Judges if they apply this law .I have asked all judges who appear for vetting on their position on death penalty and they all seem to be looking up to Parliament to repeal it”, he noted.
Speaking to further end death penalty as punishment, the Board Chair of Amnesty International for Ghana Mr FrancisNyantakyi indicated that Ghana has no excuse for not abolishing this form of punishment.
He said there is the need to be able to abolish this punishment in view of Ghana arguably seen as the beacon of democracy in the sub region and it is a dent on the country’s democratic image for still keeping the Death penalty on its books.
He questioned how Ghana feels when it is seeking a position on the human rights council of the United Nations when it’s human rights record is bad, pointing to the death penalty.
For him, the country’s signing onto the United Nations moratorium on the abolishment of death penalty across the world should spur other stakeholders, particularly Parliament to do the needful.
Giving a highlight of the 2022 report, the Director of Amnesty International for Ghana, Madam Genevieve Partington, indicated that the number of prisoners who are on death row as at 2022 are 172.
Out of this number, six are females Additionally, there have been no executions although seven people were sentenced to death in that same year.
On the global level, however, she said 2016 new death sentences across 52 countries were imposed compared to 2052 in 56 countries in 2021.
“Amnesty International recorded 883 executions in 20 countries in 2022 marking a 53% increase from 579 recorded in 2021.” she stated.