By Jerry Akornor
Renowned Human Rights and Public Interest Lawyer who doubles as Deputy Ranking Member on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Ghana has called on all stakeholders to initiate processes to expunge death clause from the Supreme laws of the land.
The Madina legislator made the call during the presentation of 2020 Death Penalty Report Launch by Amnesty International-Ghana on the topic “The Role of Parliament in Amendment process” on Wednesday, 21 April, 2021 held in Cape Coast.
Contributing to the debate, a private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu argued that removing death penalty from the law book can commence from “amendment of sections 46, 49, 49A, 180, 194 and 317A of the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960, (Act 29)”. According to the rights Lawyer Kpebu added that all political actors must be United to amend the above provisions”. eanwhile, the Campaign & Fundraising Coordinator of Amnesty International, Ghana Samuel Agbotsey said the official launch was to consolidate the gains made in the removal of death penalty campaign. He said, as part of the campaign, Amnesty Ghana visited the President of The Republic as a way of creating a platform for key stakeholders to discuss the processes and the role of the Attorney General’s Department in drafting a bill to amend the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), particularly sections 46, 49, 49A, 180, 194 and 317A for a possible submission to cabinet and subsequently to parliament.
According to him the proposal submitted to the President made a case for the amendment of five out of the six offences with capital punishment as contained in the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29), particularly sections 46, 49, 49A, 180, 194 and 317A. He also said many of the convictions on capital punishment have been secured under the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 except for Treason which is contained in the 1992 Constitution, which will need a national referendum if the constitution should be amended.
In a speech read on behalf of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Godfred Yeboah Dame pledged to work on appropriate bills for the amendment but added that the process had delayed as a result of the Covid pandemic. The AG, however stated that government was committed to the proposed amendment of Act 29.
CHRAJ, Ghana Police and Ghana prisons who were all represented pledged their support to the abolition.
In speaking about the role of Parliament, Hon. Sosu said the the Enactment Process is the same as processes used for Amendment and is generally regulated by Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution which also regulates the processes by which such laws are made.
Mr Sosu said there are Two set of Procedures which included Processes involving Government Initiated Bill and those initiated by Private Members Bill. He indicated that when a Bill or a proposed amendment is Submitted to Parliament, the leader of government business and the leadership of parliament adds it to a Legislative Program for the house. The Bill is Laid and Read the 1st time and referred to the relevant select Committee that does clause by clause review and scrutiny of the amendment and a report is submitted to the full house of Parliament. At the submission of the Committee report, there is a 2nd Reading where the policy underlying Bill is debated
Hon. Sosu added that after the second reading there is a consideration stage where the proposed amendments are debated. After that stage there is a 3rd Reading and the Bill is Passed.
“If we can all commit to this amendment, we can abolish death penalty from our laws by the end of this year. AG’s excuse of a delayed process due to COVID cannot be accepted. Let’s do everything to abolish death sentence”, he said.