This article was originally published in Jurist, 27 July 2023.
Ghana’s Parliament voted Tuesday to amend the country’s Criminal Offences Act to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment. The vote came after Minister of Parliament (MP) Francis-Xavier Sosu introduced the amended bill with the backing of rights groups. The bill will see 170 inmates currently on death row have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
After the vote, Sosu said, “Abolishing the death penalty shows that we are determined as a society not to be inhumane, uncivil, closed, retrogressive and dark.” He added that the bill will also propel Ghana toward the fulfillment of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). According to Article 40 of the ICCPR, signatory States are required to provide info on measures to protect the rights recognized by the covenant, including the right to life.
Amnesty International called the vote a “major step” and urged President Akufo-Addo to sign the bill into law, commute all death sentences and establish an execution moratorium. The Death Penalty Project said Ghana is the 29th African country to abolish capital punishment.
The Ghanaian Constitution still allows for the use of the death penalty in cases of high treason. The last execution in Ghana was carried out in 1993.