The death penalty is one of these topics that triggers people’s feelings to deep extents. It’s a topic that divides people because there is too much at stake.
On July 25, 2023, the Ghanaian Parliament voted to abolish the death penalty, making the country the latest of several African nations that have moved to repeal capital punishment in recent years, according to Reuters,
No one has been executed in Ghana since 1993, although 176 people were on death row as of last year, according to the Ghana Prison Service.
The Ghanaian parliament voted to amend the Criminal Offences Act to remove the death penalty as a punishment for any crime. This makes Ghana the 29th country in Africa and the 124th country in the world to abolish the death penalty. Lawmakers endorsed the proposed amendment to the country’s criminal offense law during a televised session of parliament in a vote praised by rights advocates. The measure goes now to President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is expected to sign the bill into law. The new bill will amend the state’s Criminal Offences Act to substitute life imprisonment for the death penalty, according to a parliamentary committee report.
Francis-Xavier Sosu, the legislator who submitted the bill, said” “This is a great achievement of the human rights record of Ghana. We have conducted research, from constitutional review to opinion polls, and they all show that majority of Ghanaians want the death penalty removed.” Indeed, public opinion in Ghana has been shifting against the death penalty in recent years. A 2022 poll found that 62% of Ghanaians support abolishing the death penalty.
The decision to abolish the death penalty was welcomed by human rights groups, who argued that it is a cruel and inhumane punishment that is not effective in deterring crime. They also pointed out that the death penalty is disproportionately used against the poor and marginalized. Moreover, Ghana has been under international pressure to abolish the death penalty for many years. The United Nations and other human rights groups have called on Ghana to end the death penalty.
The government of Ghana has said that it will work to ensure that the sentences of the 176 people who are currently on death row are commuted to life imprisonment.
Without the death penalty as a sentencing option, the Ghanaian government will need to focus more on rehabilitation and restorative justice programs for those convicted of serious crimes. This could lead to a more holistic approach to criminal justice that seeks to address the root causes of crime and to help offenders reintegrate into society.
Ghana's abolition of the death penalty will be seen as a positive step by the international community. This could lead to increased cooperation with other countries on human rights issues and could also make Ghana more attractive to foreign investment.
Of course, there are also some potential challenges associated with abolishing the death penalty. For example, it could lead to an increase in the number of violent crimes, as some people believe that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.