GHANA: HANDS OFF CAIN MISSION FOR DEATH PENALTY ABOLITION
|From Left: Zamparutti, Mumuni, Perduca, Guma
December 9, 2010: After the missions in Zambia, Mali and Congo-Brazaville, the Hands Off Cain campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Africa continues in Ghana.
A delegation from the Radical Association (comprised of Parliamentarian and Hands Off Cain Treasurer Elisabetta Zamparutti and Senator Marco Perduca, and accompanied by Italian Ambassador to Accra, Tullio Guma) met Foreign Minister Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, who had recently returned from the urgent ECOWAS meeting held in Abuja on the crisis in the Ivory Coast.
The minister congratulated Hands Off Cain and the Radical Party for their perseverance in the struggle to defend human rights and for their efforts in Ghana on this issue.
Mumuni said â€śFor us the affirmation of human rights is inseparable from the process of democratisation that we want to consolidate.â€ť On the question of the death penalty, the Foreign Minister said that â€śwe have a de facto moratoriumâ€ť. â€śThe death penalty is also an emotional topic and, therefore, the debate on the issue must be global: one side is the thoughts of the political elite, another is popular opinion.â€ť â€śI personally have discussed this many times with the Attorney General and we agree on abolitionâ€ť, minister Mumuni said.
The Foreign Minister also explained Ghana's position on the Resolution for the universal Moratorium on capital punishment in discussion at the United Nations. Minister Mumuni is committed to turning the vote of abstention given one month ago at the Third Commission of the General Assembly to favourable vote in a plenary session (scheduled for December 20). To achieve this he is holding a meeting of the council of ministers.
The death penalty has been present in Ghana's laws since the introduction of English common law in 1874.
It was the punishment for murder, treason and armed robbery, and it still applies to these crimes. There are 104 prisoners awaiting execution, all being held in the Nsawam Medium Security Prison, in a prison cell that can only hold 24 people. In the last few years the President of Ghana, John Kufuor, a devout catholic, issued a series of presidential pardons to reduce the numbers on death row. The latest was at the end of his mandate in January 2009. More than 500 prisoners were pardoned, including all detainees on death row.
The mission in Ghana concludes the third step of the Hands Off Cain â€śAfrica Projectâ€ť for the realisation of the UN resolution for the moratorium on executions and the abolition of the death penalty in Africa. The two year project, financed in part by the European Union, foresees missions in 8 African countries for the first year and the holding of regional conferences in the second year. (Sources: HOC, 09/12/2010)