14 July 2017

No hangman to execute Ghana’s death row convicts

As global human rights group, Amnesty International has renewed its call for the repeal of the death sentence in Ghana, it has emerged there is even no professional hangman to execute the death sentence in Ghana.

The hangman whose duty it was to professionally execute the death sentence has long left the system, Director of Administration at the Prison Service Stephen Coffie has disclosed.

The hangman’s noose though available also needs heavy servicing in the unlikely event any of the convicts on death row is to be executed.

The last time the state executed death row convicts was in 1993 when ex-president John Rawlings ordered the execution of 12 convicted armed robbers and murderers in and around Accra. 

Mohammed Yao Midoagbodzi was sentenced to death for armed robbery by the Eastern Region Public Tribunal in 1988. Atta Bruce, Vincent Kodwo Ayivor, Kwadzo Ackon and Eric Nii Addo were convicted of murder and armed robbery; Benjamin Mireku was convicted of murder and Kwepey Yartey, Kwame Nkansah, Issaka Agege and Zakaria Salifu were convicted of armed robbery.

Godfrey Nyavie and Mustapha Bruce were convicted of murder and sentenced to death on 17 April 1989 by the Greater Accra Regional Public Tribunal. 

Their dates and places of conviction were not reported.

A woman convicted and sentenced to death with them was not executed.

Presently there are more than 148 persons, including 4 women on death row in Ghana.

Despite the apparent disinterest by the recent Ghanaian leaders to order the execution of death row convicts, the very presence of the law on Ghana’s statutes is a huge source of worry for Amnesty International.

The group has expressed concern over the stalling of the constitutional review process in Ghana which they believe would have led to the repeal of the death sentence in the law books of Ghana.

The country director of Amnesty International, Sabrina Tisu, said this when Amnesty International released its report on the death penalty situation across the world.

“The Ghanaian Constitution has been under examination since 2010 when the then President Atta Mills inaugurated the Constitution Review Commission to review aspects of the constitution which needed to be repealed, amended or retained.

“The death penalty was one of the issues on the agenda of the Constitution Review Commission,” she said.

Sabrina Tisu cited the report of the commission in 2011 which called for the repeal of the death penalty through a referendum.

She said Amnesty International is waiting for the report to be fully implemented.

Whilst waiting for that to happen she can temporarily take solace in the fact that there is no one to execute the death penalty at least for now.

By Ghana’s laws, death sentence can be executed in two ways- either through shooting or by hanging.

The latter has been the preferred option, Director of Administration at the Prison Service Stephen Coffie suggested.

“The death sentence yes, we know is still in our constitution. The hangman’s system is till blazing in Nsawam but nobody can operate it today. The last person, the professional who used to handle that facility has long left the system and nobody has oiled or serviced that equipment,” he said.


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