Amnesty international is a global movement of about 7milion people who take injustice personally and campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. They exist in more than 150 countries world wide and are independent of any religion, economic or political ideology.
On 14th February, the President met with the delegation at his office where he welcomed all members present for the meeting.
The three main reasons for this meeting were to address poor prison conditions, abolishing of the death penalty and non-custodial sentences.
The discussion started with Lawyer Martin Kpebu addressing issues on death penalty where he stated that capital punishment in Ghana can be found in six instances in the statute books of Ghana and the effects on such victims as it leaves them traumatized even though laws on death penalty have not been used since 1993. Besides section 46 which is on murder and the commonest offence that the death penalty is given today is an ordinary act of parliament and all that is needed is its amendment and that of Act 29. He therefore suggested that changing this law into life in prison will at least make these victims a bit relieved even though they will face the law for committing such crimes and be corrected instead of putting them on death row and solitary confinement without killing them which poses risks to their health as well.
The second concern he raised was on non-custodial sentences where prisoners could be used or engaged in some domestic chores in the country rather than keeping them because it would be better and resourceful when such persons are made to serve the nation in this manner.
He further elaborated this by adding it would be good if some prisoners are pardoned to serve as a decongestion exercise in our prison to reduce overcrowding hence reducing the health risk posed to prisoners and urged government to fulfill their promise they made to Ghanaians in 2016 which can also be found in the NPP 2016 manifesto that two hospitals – one in the southern and the other in the northern sector will be built for prisoners. Lawyer Martin Kpebu further congratulated the president for his good work so far by granting amnesty to 12 prisoners and one person on death row to life imprisonment in 2019.
Mr. Samuel Agbotsey, the campaigns and fundraising coordinator of AIG spoke extensively on poor prison conditions and the amount of money allocated to each prisoner daily (1.80 pesewas for breakfast, lunch, supper) which was not encouraging and urged the government to do something about this current situation in order to help promote the dignity of persons in prison.
The international Board member also raised some concerns on the ratification of three international protocols thus the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty, the international convention for protection of all persons from enforced disappearance and optional protocol to the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights.
The president accepted with all concerns raised and encouraged Ghanaians not to be partisan when it comes to dealing with human rights issues. He promised to work on all the cases brought to him by AIG and the issue on the abolition of the death penalty especially will be forwarded to parliament to decide on. He also added that once the parliament is in support of this decision, then that will lead to a positive response.