Working alongside Ghanaian Parliamentarians and campaign groups, NGO The Death Penalty Project (DPP), supported by and based in Simons Muirhead and Burton’s office, played a pivotal role in the run-up to the landmark decision by Parliament to abolish the death penalty for all ordinary crimes, including murder, genocide, piracy, smuggling of gold and diamonds, and as attempted murder in prison, as well as for all miliary crimes.
The move makes Ghana the 29th country to abolish the death penalty in Africa and the 124th worldwide. There are currently 170 men and 6 women on its death row, whose death sentences will now be replaced by life imprisonment.
The DPP has been active in Ghana for over a decade, providing free representation and support to those facing the death penalty, alongside Ghana NGO the Legal Resources Centre.
The DPP worked closely with the MP for Madina, Mr. Francis Xavier-Sosu after he introduced the Bills last year. Before the Bills were debated by Parliament, they were referred by the Speaker to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Committee’s reports and their recommendation were unequivocal: that the House should accept its reports, pass Mr Sosu’s Bills and replace the sentence of death with life imprisonment.
During this collaborative process, DPP worked alongside leading academics from top universities, including the Death Penalty Research Unit at the University of Oxford, as well as Ghana’s policymakers, civil society organisations, the Ghana Bar Association, religious leaders and the diplomatic community.
All these efforts helped to shift Ghana’s national conversation around capital punishment. This is not the first instance of DPP’s legal work and expertise creating monumental change. In 2021 the NGO played a significant role in bringing about abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone.
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