Agalga Defends Death Penalty Law

…Says ‘Abolishing It Could Be Dangerous’

…But Amnesty International Expresses Fear

 Hon. James Agalaga, Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa North, has advised against campaigns by some civil society organisations for the abolishing of the death penalty law in the country.

According to him, though the law and its enforcement may not be palatable to the human existence, it serves as deterring enough and its total expunging from the criminal law books could be dangerous.

Mr. Agalga, a former Deputy Minister of Interior, made the comment following a request by Amnesty International to parliament to consider taking steps to repeal the death penalty law, when the matter comes before them.

The request was made when officials of Amnesty International paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, on Tuesday, this week.

According to the Advocator Adviser to Amnesty International, Oluwatosin Popoola, the death penalty has not been and is not a deterrent enough to crime in the country and the world at large.

“We are here to urge you and parliament to take steps to abolish the death penalty in existing laws while we wait for the constitutional process to fully abolish this horrible punishment. Last year, a delegation from Amnesty International conducted research in Ghana on the use of the death penalty.

“We visited the death row section in the Nsawam Prison and tomorrow by God’s grace we will be launching our report on our observations and we are here to not only express our concerns but to share advance copies of the report with you and we hope to have a constructive discussion with you,” Mr. Popoola said.

He added that about 105 countries have so far signed to join the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty and called on the Ghanaian legislators to join the fray to repeal the death penalty laws.

In response, Prof. Oquaye questioned why a murderer’s right to life should be protected when he or she takes another’s from them.

According to the Speaker, Amnesty International may soon start pushing for the legalisation of bestiality in Ghana, judging from the way the rights advocacy group has been campaigning for the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the abolition of the death penalty in the name of human rights.

The Speaker noted that on the issue of human rights, if care is not taken, Amnesty International will make another future request for the country to accept homosexuality since it is an acceptable practice in some countries.

He said: “It takes persuasion for people to totally abandon matters relating to aims of punishment. In terms of that which is correct, that which is a deterrent…and also the juxtaposition of rights, the murderer has a right to life but the victim had a right to life in the first place and taken away by the murderer.”

“Why should the murderer insist on his right to life and society protect his/her right to life when he violently abuses and takes away unilaterally without justification the life of another? The Speaker asked.

But speaking to the parliamentary press corps on the matter, Mr. Agalga said, repealing the death penalty could be dangerous for the nation, arguing that should the law be repealed, there would be no any other alternative in the event of grievous crime.

The law, he said, though still in the statutes books of the country, it has not been used by any leader of the country for over two decades and there was no need for its repeal.

He added that, some crimes are so heinous and inherently wrong that they demand strict penalties up to and including life sentences or even death, stating, ” the existent of the law itself is deterrent, because  people  who may commit heinous crime would have to remind themselves of the death penalty law.”

In the view of Mr. Agalga, even though the death penalty has reached various conclusions about its effectiveness in deterring crime, it remained the most enforceable tool for which crime could be fought and therefore still has a deterrent effect.

He disagreed with Amnesty International assertion that its continued existence could be abused and innocent persons executed for no crime committed, arguing, the country is not answerable to Amnesty International and therefore would not yield to the request of the human rights advocacy body.

He said: “The way human rights conceptualisations are going these days, if we don’t take care, before we realise very soon everything has become human rights, even the right to have sex with animals.”

Generally, death penalty could be described as the judicially ordered execution of a prisoner as a punishment for a serious crime, often called a capital offense or a capital punishment.

In some jurisdictions, capital punishment is restricted to a number of criminal offences, principally treason and murder. Persons who have been sentenced to death are usually kept segregated from other prisoners in a special part of the prison, pending their execution.

Many people argued that, society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals from unlawful action and since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder, and that is the death penalty.



Source: Felix Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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