Parliament has successfully passed the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill 2022, thus abolishing the death penalty from the statute books.
The bill, which is now awaiting President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s assent, seeks to amend the Criminal Offences Act of 1960 (Act 29), replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment while addressing related matters.
This landmark reform was spearheaded as a Private Members’ Bill, championed by Francis-Xavier Sosu, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina.
The overarching objective of the new law is to reform the criminal justice system of Ghana to meet the needs of an emerging society and add the country to the league of nations that has moved away from capital punishment.
In Ghana, the death penalty is imposed after a conviction for murder, attempt to commit murder, genocide, or piracy and smuggling of gold or diamond.
However, some human rights activists have argued that the death penalty is too final and irreversible, thereby demanding a replacement with a life sentence.
Under the guidance of Speaker Alban Kingsford Bagbin, the Bill was referred to the Committee on Constitution, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs. The committee presented its report to the entire House on Tuesday, leading to the Bill’s subsequent approval through a voice vote.
Several legislators showed their support for the legislation, including Bernard Ahiafor, the NDC MP for Akatsi South; Dr. Dominic Ayine, the NDC MP for Bolgatanga East; James Agalga, the NDC MP for Builsa South; Andy Appiah-Kubi, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Asante Akim North; Benson Baba Tongo, the NDC MP for Talensi; Helen Adwoa Ntoso, the NDC MP for Krachi West, and Mahama Ayariga, the NDC MP for Bawku Central.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo Markin says the passage of the bill calls for celebration as a country.