international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
The death penalty has been in Ghana’s statute books since the inception of English common law in the country in 1874.Ghana still retains the death penalty for armed robbery, treason and first-degree murder.
There have been no executions since July 1993, when 12 prisoners convicted of robbery and murder were executed by firing squad. However, death sentences continue to be imposed.
In 2017, there were no officail data on the number of new death sentnecs. Accoding Amnesty International there were 7 and Hands off Cain had notice of 2, one on a woman.
In 2016, according to information of the Ghana Prisons Service, 17 new death sentences were imposed. At the end of the year, 148 people were under sentence of death. Some of them have been on death row for as long as 10 years. In 2015, according to the Ghana Prisons Service, 18 people were sentenced to death for murder. In 2014, the death sentences were 9 and 14 in 2013. As of 31 December 2015, there were 137 people on death row, including 3 women and 7 foreigners. Some of them have been on death row for as long as 10 years.
On 15 June 2012, the White Paper on the Report of the Constitution Review Commission was made public with a Gazette notification. The Government of Ghana, among many others, accepted the Commission’s recommendation to abolish the death penalty, replacing it with life imprisonment. “The sanctity of life is a value so much engrained in the Ghanaian social psyche that it cannot be gambled away with judicial uncertainties,” declares the White Paper, signed by John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana. A five-member Implementation Committee was set up with the mandate to implement the recommendations accepted by the Government. The Constitution Review Commission was inaugurated by President Mills on 11 January 2010 to undertake a consultative review of 1992 Constitution, and on 20 December 2011 it submitted its Report to the President, who thanked the Commission for the work done.
In March 2014, the Constitution Review and Implementation Committee (CRIC) submitted a draft bill for the amendment of entrenched provisions in the 1992 Constitution to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. The draft bill calls for the abolition of the death penalty and asks for it to be substituted with life imprisonment. It also asks that the prerogative of mercy should not be extended to people who have committed high treason, treason, genocide, murder or narcotic offences, except in circumstances determined by a medical board.
On 24 April 2014, Cabinet had approved the abolition of the death penalty. The penalty had, however, remained on statute books because it was an entrenched provision in the Constitution, hence the need to overcome a number of legal hurdles, including by holding a national referendum which was not held till 2017.
In 2017, there are more than 149
persons, including 5 women on death row, but hardly they will not be executed because, as Director of Administration at the Prison Service Stephen Coffie has disclosed on 13 July 2017, the hangman whose duty it was to professionally execute the death sentence has long left the system. What is more, there is a longstanding policy of clemency in the country by the Presidents.
On 4 July 2016, President John Dramani Mahama granted amnesty to another 896 prisoners to commemorate the 56th
Republic Anniversary and three perioners sentenced to death had the penalty commuted to life imprisonment. Another was exonerated. In 2015, he granted an amnesty for 900 prisoners. Mahama was the Vice President of Ghana from 2009 to 2012, and he took office as President on 24 July 2012 following the death of his predecessor, President John Atta Mills. He was elected to serve his first term as president in December 2012 election. President Mahama’s clemency measures were part of a long series of amnesties granted by his predecessors, especially by President John Kufuor, devoted Catholic and known as “the good giant of Africa.” From June 2003 to 7 January 2009, his last day in office as President of Ghana, President Kufuor has granted clemency to 327 prisoners, who had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.The death penalty on women
Ghana has ratified the Protocol to the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which prohibits the execution of pregnant women and of nursing mothers. The Criminal Procedure Code provides that when a woman is convicted of an offense punishable by death and is shown to be pregnant, the trial court (or Supreme Court) shall pass a sentence of life imprisonment.
In Ghana, as of July 2017, there were 5 female out of a total of 149 prisoners on death row, according to the Prison Service. One woman, Talata Baana was seteced to death for murder on 28 July 2017. United Nations
In March 2018, in its response to the recommendations received in Novembre 2017 under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council, the Government supported those concerning the introduction of a moratorium, the abolition of the death penalty and the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In line with its commitment to abolish the death penalty, Ghana had voted in favour of Council resolution 36/17 entitled “The question of the death penalty” during the thirtysixth Council session.
In December 2016, Ghana abstained on the Resolution for a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.
On 29 September 2017, Ghana voted for the Resolution on the death penalty (L6/17) at the 36° session of the UN Council on Human Rights.
On 16 December 2020, Ghana abstained on the Resolution for a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly, as in 2018.