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Ghana abolishes death penalty

Accra’s move makes it the 29th African country to remove the possibility of capital punishment

Ghana has become the latest African country to abolish the death penalty after president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo rubber-stamped two bills approved by Accra’s parliament in July which commutes all death sentences to life imprisonment.

According to the sponsor of the bills, Francis-Xavier Sosu of Ghana’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) party, the law change will lead to a freer and more “open, prosperous, inclusive and secure society” in the country with a population in excess of 32 million people.

He added last month that “on death row, prisoners woke up thinking this could be their last day on earth. They were like the living dead: psychologically, they had ceased to be humans.”

Previously, execution had been mandatory for murder convictions in the country. Ghana presently has 170 men and six women who had been awaiting execution on death row. Their sentences will now be automatically charged to life imprisonment.

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The bills were initially approved by Ghana’s parliament on July 25 and later approved by the office of the president on August 2, local media reported. Prior to the change, which requires Ghana’s constitution to be amended, the proposal had received widespread support from key political figures.

Surveys had also indicated a swathe of support among Ghana’s populace to become the latest African country to remove the possibility of execution.

“Abolishing the death penalty shows that we are determined as a society not to be inhumane, uncivil, closed, retrogressive and dark,” Sosu said. “Our common belief [is] that the sanctity of life is inviolable.”

Ghana now becomes the 29th African country – and the 124th globally – to have removed the death penalty. It joins other nations on the continent to have done so in recent years, including Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone and Chad – all of whom ended capital punishment from 2020 onwards.

Last year, seven people were sentenced to death in Ghana – which also reserved the punishment for instances of treason. However, authorities in the African country have not carried out an execution since 1993.

August 13, 2023 at 01:13AM

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