The Member of Parliament for Zebilla constituency in the Upper East Region, Cletus Apul Avoka, has kicked against calls for the abolishment of the death penalty from Ghana’s legal books.
Legislators were divided over the report of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on the Criminal Offences Amendment Act, which seeks to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment.
The Zebilla lawmaker, in an interview, reiterated his stance that scrapping the law will be detrimental to the justice system of the country.
He argued that the elimination of the law will rather increase instant justice activities, where suspects are killed by civilians without a judicial trial.
“Where is the evidence that when the death penalty is taken out of our books, people will not commit murder? In fact, we are having fewer heinous crimes because of the existence of the death penalty. Already, people do not have confidence in the judicial system, and if you now go around telling people that if you kill somebody, you will not die, then you are inviting Ghanaians to take the law into their hands and do instant justice.”
“Abolishing the death penalty has the tendency to increase mob justice.”
Mr. Avoka further rebutted claims that there is less crime in countries that have abolished the death penalty, saying the jurisdictions are different and will not work in the case of Ghana.
“There is very little logical argument to the conversation that the peaceful countries in the world do not have the death penalty in their books. The jurisdiction is not the same and has different issues, and so advancing that argument is a non-starter.”
“There is no empirical proof that in Ghana if we abolish the death penalty, people will not commit heinous crimes. There is nothing to support it.”
Although the death penalty was inherited from the colonial administration as a punishment for murder, attempted murder, genocide, piracy, and smuggling of gold or diamonds, successive presidents of Ghana have not signed a death warrant for the execution of offenders since 1993.
The presiding archbishop and general overseer of the Action Chapel International ministry, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, on the contrary, has backed calls for the abolishment of the law.