Ghana Armed Forces declares support for death penalty abolishment
Member of Parliament for the Madina Constituency, Hon. Francis Xavier Sosu in June 2021 introduced a private member’s bill for the removal of the death penalty from the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), has said it supports calls for the abolishment of the death penalty from Ghana’s Criminal Code.
At a stakeholders engagement on the proposed bill to amend the Criminal Offences Act (Act 29) and the Armed Forces Act (Act 105), the Director of Legal Service at GAF, Brigadier-General Benjamin Amoah-Boakye, said in addition to their support of the bill, the Armed Forces have begun work to amend some of the provisions in the Armed Forces Act, 1962.
“My board is recommending for the abolishing of death penalty. By way of procedure, we are reviewing all the regulations, some dating back to the 60s, and because it is quite heavy, it is taking quite a long time.
So, if we have this process that has been initiated, that will single out those provisions in the Armed Forces Act to be dealt separately, we will gladly support that. I must say that I have the backing of the Chief of the Defence Staff to make this statement that I have made,” he explained.
He continued: “We are all for it, and whatever support that is required, just as we’ve done today, you can count on us, and we will be there to support.”
Justice Dennis Adjei, a Court of Appeal judge, restated that the death penalty remains a retributive punishment that defies logic, thereby making a mockery of justice, by not applying evenly in all criminal cases, except murder and treasonable offences.
According to him, the fact that a number of presidents have found it unnecessary to sign execution warrants is clear that the country does not need the law again.
The 1992 Constitution, provides the death penalty as the mandatory punishment for treason. The Criminal Code carries the mandatory death penalty for murder; and discretionary death sentencing for attempts to commit murder, genocide, treason and smuggling of gold and diamonds. Under the Armed Forces Act of 1962, the death penalty may be imposed for treason and mutiny by military personnel in time of war.
According to Amnesty International, three new death sentences were imposed in 2020; eight in 2019; and 12 in 2018. As of the end of 2020, 160 people – 155 men and five women – were under sentence of death. These included six foreign nationals, one from Benin, two from Burkina Faso, and three from Nigeria.
In 2020 also, commutations of death sentences to lesser punishment or pardons like life imprisonment were granted to nine (9) people.
Member of Parliament for the Madina Constituency, Hon. Francis Xavier Sosu in June 2021 introduced a private member’s bill for the removal of the death penalty from the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29). The proposal seeks to abolish the death penalty for most capital offences under national legislation.