Ghana imposes nine death sentences in 2014 – Amnesty International

AmnestyThe Human rights campaigner, Amnesty International says though no executions have been carried out for about 20 years in the country, nine death sentences were imposed in 2014.

The Human Rights body has therefore urged the government to expunge the death penalty from the statutory books and stick to other forms of punishments to deter commitment of crimes.

Mr Lawrence Amesu, Director of Amnesty International Ghana made this known at the launch of the 2014 death penalty report on Wednesday.

He said President John Dramani Mahama has already commuted 21 death sentences to life imprisonment.

“The plans by government to put to a referendum recommendation of the Constitution Review Commission that require changes to the constitution, including the removal of the death penalty, were not implemented in 2014.”

The Human rights group warned of an “alarming” rise in death sentences around the globe in 2014, with Egypt and Nigeria accounting for much of the increase.

The number of death sentences actually carried out went down by 22 per cent to 607 however from the previous year, although Amnesty warned the numbers did not count executions in China where death sentences were kept secret.

“There is no evidence that the death penalty is any more of a deterrent to violent crime or terrorism than other forms of punishment,” Mr Amesu said.

China had the highest number of executions in the world, followed by Iran, which carried out with 289, as well as at least 454 executions which Amnesty said were not acknowledged by the authorities.

Saudi Arabia carried out 90 executions, followed by Iraq which had 61 people sentenced to death and the US, which executed 35.

While the report notes an overall decrease in the number of death sentences handed out, it says a major exception was Egypt, where the number rose to 509 from 109 in 2013.

“This included mass death sentences against 37 people in April and 183 people in June following unfair mass trials,” Amnesty said.

Death sentences in Nigeria also shot up to 659 in 2014 from 141 in 2013, mainly linked to the Boko Haram rebellion in the country’s northern regions.

The overall positive trend was for fewer countries to use capital punishment, said Amnesty, which has been campaigning against the death penalty for nearly 40 years.

“The few countries that still execute need to take a serious look in the mirror and ask themselves if they want to continue to violate the right to life,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s Secretary General.

Amnesty also found that around the world there were 113 exonerations for death row prisoners in 2014.

Source: GNA

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