The Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, has declared his unequivocal support for the need to replace death sentences with life imprisonment.
The report of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on the Criminal Offences Amendment Act, which seeks to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment, has divided parliamentarians.
The Human Rights lawyer believes that although the death penalty was inherited from the colonial administration as a punishment for murder, attempted murder, genocide, piracy, and smuggling of gold or diamonds, Ghana has not signed a death warrant for the execution of offenders since 1993.
The MP stated that “since Ghana gained independence in 1957, 49 people have been executed either by firing squad or by hanging, and the majority of those executions primarily occurred during military regimes” in an interview with Kwabena Agyapong on Frontline on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm.
“Ghana’s current stance is that we actively oppose slavery. This is the case because, commendably, Ghana has not signed a death warrant since 1993 to execute anyone.
He explained that we should understand how the death penalty was introduced, the circumstances surrounding it, and whether it was still relevant in our books as society progressed.
”Today, the death penalty is irrelevant. We must remove it from our records and replace it with a life sentence. In practice, we have people sentenced to death, but after 38 years, we release them, so why have the law if you don’t use it again? That is the first question. Second, families of victims of crimes carrying the death penalty have no closure when the people sentenced to death are not executed. Because how does a person get closure if they are sentenced to death and you do not execute them?”
He stated that there are currently about 176 people on the death roll in Ghana’s condemned cells.
The conditions in the cells, he lamented, were deplorable and unfit for human habitation.
”As a human rights lawyer, I have visited the condemned cells and witnessed the conditions in which those who reside there live. It’s terrible, and I urge anyone who is listening to go see for themselves. If you keep people in such a state, the best option is to execute them or change the law to a life sentence.”
He claims that it is widely acknowledged that the death penalty should be abolished and that the work of the constitutional review commission under the late Atta Mills reflected this.
He noted that recently when he took part in a UN event, President Akufo-Addo supported the call for repeal as well and even voted in favour of it.
He came to the conclusion that there is a political and judicial agreement to abolish the death penalty, and as Ghanaians, we must accept that it is time to deal with it.