The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has called for a non-partisan debate on the proposed abolishment of the death penalty as his government prepares to petition Parliament to amend the constitution.
Addressing the leadership of the International Human Rights Organisation, Amnesty International who paid a courtesy call on him at the Jubilee House on Friday, President Akufo-Addo said the petition must not be driven by the whims of Parliamentarians but must go on a free vote.
“The Interior Minister and Ghana Security Agencies are going to put their heads around the idea and bring some suggestions to us at Cabinet for decision.
“And even when it goes to Parliament, it shouldn’t go as a party issue with party whips. It should go on a free vote so that people can express their views,” he said.
So far 88 countries have abolished the death penalty but Ghana is yet to follow suit. This is because the provision is an entrenched clause in the 1992 constitution which will require a referendum before it can be amended.
Amnesty International for some time now, has collated signatures of over 11,000 Ghanaians who are demanding the abolishment of the death penalty.
The President observed that numerous Ghanaians are not calling for the abolishment because there has not been any execution in the country for a long time, however, he acknowledged that an abolishment will be the right thing to do.
He further described the overcrowding situation of the country’s prisons as unacceptable and promised that plans are underway to address the problem.
“Conditions in our prisons for some time have been unacceptable. I recognize that the building of more prisons is the solution. But it always goes back to the situation of the treasury and what is available but never the less it is something that has to be addressed,” he said.
On his part, Martin Kpebu, a member of the organisation noted that the solitary confinement of the prisoners on death roll should be reconsidered.
“Per our calculation, if we amend the five sections in Act 29, we will get at least over 95% abolishing of the death penalty.
“As we know, for a long time now Ghana has not executed persons on death roll but your Excellency, the conditions like solitary confinement is practically mental torture. I have been to Nsawam a couple of times and it is not a good sight to behold, that is why we are pleading with you [to amend it],” he indicated.