To Execute Capital Punishment Or Not

We do not know how many condemned convicts are on death row in the country today although we know the number is not small.

We also cannot tell the last time that any of such death row convicts was put to death in our prisons, of course, with the nod of the President.

Supreme Court nominee Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson’s response to a question on the subject of capital punishment rekindled a subject which while in some jurisdictions has long been closed, in others such as Ghana it hangs around the neck of officialdom as an albatross.

It is an indisputable fact that as human beings we are all fallible and liable to taking decisions which in the long run would turn out to be wrong.

Her rhetorical question to the Appointments Committee of Parliament as to what happens when after a convict has been denied life it turns out that there was an error in judgment is too serious to be imagined. The mental consequences that would visit those responsible for taking such wrong decisions can be enormous.

The nightmare she suffered when she partook in a decision to have a convict killed some years back was graphic and infectious.

Although it has been long since any of our democratically elected presidents gave the nod for an execution in the country, it is part of our statute books to hang persons convicted of taking the lives of others.

It is a subject which even in some jurisdictions has not been fully addressed as observed in an earlier paragraph.

Now that a Supreme Court nominee has navigated the subject following a question thrown at her by a Parliamentary Committee member, we, as a people, should have an opportunity to one day discuss it in a national conversation and a decision taken on it.

We appear to have just pushed it under the carpet even as the number of convicts on the death row augments.

Of course, it is a challenging subject which no government dares address in a way that would suggest treating killers with kid’s gloves.

We can bet that when there is a referendum on the subject most Ghanaians would rather those convicted after exhaustive adjudication must be killed since after all the scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths subscribe to killing those who kill others. But coming to the nominee’s rhetoric question again: ‘what if it is discovered subsequently that the decision to hang the convict was faulty against the emergence of fresh evidence?’ Those responsible would suffer the psychological and spiritual consequence of their action for life.

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