BY ANIN AGYEI-
NEW AFRICA DAILY NEWS, Accra, Ghana- A LEGAL practitioner and a Human Right Watcher, Mr. Martin L. Kpebu has proposed that if the government of Ghana is committed in abolishing the death penalty it will not take more than four month to do so.
According to him, even though the Constitution specifies that to amend the death penalty requires a referendum, portions such as Article 29 session 46 of the 1992 Constitution which deals with murder, accounting for 95% of cases in relation to death penalty can go through Parliamentary amendment.
Speaking to journalist in Accra, when representative of Amnesty International Ghana called on him to seek his opinion on death penalty, he said the government through the Constitutional Review Commission suggested that death penalty be abolish but that cannot be feasible if Article 13 is not amended.
“But the truth is that, it is not an easy task amending Article 13 because it is an entrench position meaning it has to go through referendum and it also expensive,” Lawyer Kpebu stated.
“Looking at the current Ghanaian context, the government is not ready to commit huge resources into that, there is no guarantee also that even many Ghanaians will vote for that so what I am proposing is that we go through Parliamentary amendment.”
Lawyer Kpebu said Parliament can amend Article 29 which is popularly called the Criminal Code “so we prepare a cabinet memo through a sponsoring Ministry in this case, the Attorney General then to cabinet and laid it before Parliament for consideration.”
“We don’t need a constitutional amendment before we can abolish death penalty, what we need is when we amend provisions in Act 29, which is amendable, then the ones which cannot be amended such as treason, high treason and genocide we tackle them later through referendum,” he stated.
He said in the Constitution where offenses of treason, high treason and genocide are mentioned under Article 3 Clause 3 with entrench position so what “we are advocating for will not affect those ones.”
“Even though it will take a gradual approach but will achieve the same results because murder is the overwhelming majority of cases presented for death penalty. Currently there is only one person sentenced to death through treason since 1992 but no case for genocide yet,” he said.
On his part, the Campaign and Fundraising Coordinator of Amnesty, Mr. Samuel Agbotsey said sentencing a person on death penalty or killing a person for an offense of murder don’t give them the opportunity to reform and also deprived them of the right to hope.
Mr. Agbotse said this year, the attention of Amnesty International is on the plight of the children of those on death penalty adding that these children will never forgive society if their parents or relations are being murdered by the state and therefore there is the need to expunge death penalty from the laws of Ghana.
BY ANIN AGYEI, NEW AFRICA DAILY NEWS, AFRICA CORRESPONDENT