GBA must be at the forefront of legal reforms – Xavier Sosu


Francis Xavier Sosu
Francis Xavier Sosu

Mr Francis Xavier Sosu, Member of Parliament for Madina Constituency, has urged the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to take a lead role in legal reforms in the country.

Speaking at the launch of the 2022 Death Penalty Report by Amnesty International (AI) Ghana, in Accra, he wondered why the GBA had not yet made an input on the Death Penalty Bill since the legislation was advertised.

“The Ghana Bar Association must provide leadership in terms of legal reforms, where every legal reform that borders on human rights, must be something that should border the Bar Association, and we must necessarily have their inputs into those laws.

“We hope that between now and the time the laws are passed, the Bar Association will come out boldly, state their opposition, and also provide support for those reforms for the betterment of the country,” he said.

Mr Sosu said the Death Penalty bill, together with the anti-witchcraft bill, aimed at promoting human rights in the country, was at the consideration stage in Parliament.

He said it was critical for the nation to move away from the death penalty, especially when the judiciary, the police, the armed forces, and religious bodies had agreed that capital punishment should be scrapped from Ghana’s penal code.

Mr Francis Nyantakyi, Board Chair, AI Ghana, said the organisation last year engaged the Judicial Committee of Parliament, the media, CHRAJ, faith-based organizations, and other institutions to submit memoranda to the legislature on the death penalty bill.

He said AI Ghana also met with the Speaker of Parliament and recently engaged the office of the Chief Justice, who were all in support of the campaign to abolish the death penalty in Ghana.

Mr Nyantakyi said on November 4, 2022, AI Ghana met with President Akufo-Addo and appealed to him to vote in favour of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly draft resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, which he did.

Madam Genevieve Partington, Director, AI Ghana, said the report represented a comprehensive examination of the state of capital punishment worldwide for 2022.

She said between 2021 and 2022, there had been a 53 per cent increase in executions globally, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, where a total of 883 people were known to have been executed across 20 countries, with most of them charged with drug-related offences.

Ms Partington said the total number of recorded death sentences imposed on people, however, remained the same, with a slight decrease from 2,052 in 2021 to 2,016 in 2022.

“In Ghana, seven people were convicted of murder charges, and so by the end of 2022, a total of 172 people were on death row, counting six women and six foreigners,” she said.

Ms Partington also said that prison conditions continued to remain deplorable while some prisoners on death row suffered mental health issues from not knowing when they would be executed.

She urged the government to reimagine a justice system that prioritized rehabilitation, addressed the root causes of crime, and ensured the safety and well-being of all citizens.

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