There is the need to embark on serious sensitisation in order to convince Ghanaians to vote for the total abolishment of death penalty in the countries legal system, a former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has recommended.
Justice Emile Short’s comments come at the back of calls by Human Rights Group, Amnesty International Ghana (AIG) on government to completely scrap death penalty as the country keeps putting convicts on death row although no executions have been made since 1993.
The AIG is campaigning for the total abolishment of the capital punishment which the organisation describes as torturous and an archaic practice that needs reform, adding that it must be removed by end of 2019.
However, to realise this goal, Justice Emile Short believes a lot of work needs to be done in terms of convincing citizens who may strongly oppose the abolishing of the death penalty.
Speaking at the launch of the Amnesty International’s Death Sentence and Executions 2017 Report in Accra yesterday, the former CHRAJ boss said, “There’s a lot of sensitisation that needs to be done.”
Justice Short, who also endorsed the abolishment of death penalty explained that though the punishment is not the most effective among other sentences and does not prevent others from committing crimes, those campaigning for its removal scale up efforts to persuade those who want it retained.
“The evidence is quite clear that death penalty is not a deterrent. So for those who want to retain it because they think it is a deterrent, we have to demonstrate to them that the evidence is clear that it’s not a deterrent,” he posited.
Another reason sensitisation must be done according to the Human Rights Activist is that, for the death penalty to be totally abolished, about 75 percent of endorsement is required for the amendment of that provision in Ghana’s Constitution.
“Under our Constitution, for that provision to be amended, 40 percent of those entitled to vote have to vote, and then 75 percent of those who voted have to have voted in favour of amendment of that provision. In other words, it’s not for the President to say ‘I’ve abolished the death penalty.’ It’s a constitutional matter,” he reiterated.
Below is Amnesty International’s Death Sentence and Executions 2017 Report