MPs are currently engaged in a contentious debate regarding the proposed amendment bill on the Criminal Offences Act. The bill, put forth by the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, aims to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment as the prescribed punishment for crimes such as murder, attempted murder, genocide, piracy, and smuggling of precious minerals.
The death penalty has been part of Ghana’s legal system since colonial times, but the country has not carried out any executions since 1993. As discussions on the bill unfold, Members of Parliament have voiced contrasting opinions regarding the abolition of the death penalty.
Cletus Avoka, the Member of Parliament representing the Zebilla Constituency, expressed his disagreement by stating that he finds the arguments presented in support of the motion to be extremely concerning and lacking any substantial basis. According to Avoka, the arguments in favor of the motion lack merit.
Francis-Xavier Sosu, the Member of Parliament representing Madina and a supporter of the amendment, highlighted that Ghana, since gaining independence in 1957, has implemented the death penalty through firing squad or hanging on 49 occasions, primarily during periods of military rule.
Sosu also acknowledged Ghana’s current stance as a de facto abolitionist nation. He commended the fact that Ghana has not authorized any executions through a death warrant since 1993, which is seen as a positive development.
James Agalga, the Member of Parliament for Builsa North, and Habib Iddrisu, the Second Deputy Majority Whip, emphasized that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should not be considered as part of Ghana’s treaty obligations. They clarified that the Universal Declaration is a non-binding document and, therefore, does not meet the criteria to be classified as a treaty.