In a significant move, the Ghanaian Parliament has approved the Armed Forces (Amendment) Bill 2022, effectively abolishing the Death Penalty in favor of life imprisonment.
The Bill seeks to amend relevant sections of Act 29 and the Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105), with the primary goal of introducing life sentences in the administration of criminal justice within the armed forces.
The Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Mr. Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, received widespread support as it passed into law. Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin put the Motion to a voice vote, resulting in its successful passage.
Mr. Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs, seconded the Motion, highlighting that while the Death Penalty had remained in the Armed Forces Act since its enactment, it has not been enforced for over four decades. The provisions were present in the statute, yet no executions had taken place, rendering them ineffective as a deterrent measure.
Emphasizing that empirical studies have failed to provide evidence of the Death Penalty’s deterrent effect, Mr. Anyimadu-Antwi justified the need for the amendment to replace it with life imprisonment. The amendment aims to maintain a high level of certainty in the military justice system and ensure fairness and justice for all.
He further pointed out that since 1993, no President had signed a death warrant for execution, making the Death Penalty provisions practically dormant. Additionally, the financial aspect was considered, with the conclusion that replacing the Death Penalty with life imprisonment would not impose any significant burden on the State’s finances.
The passage of this Bill represents a significant step in redefining the approach to justice within the armed forces of Ghana, aligning the country with the growing global trend towards abolishing the Death Penalty in favor of more humane alternatives.