Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk after Ghana’s Parliament votes to abolish death penalty


I warmly welcome the passing of a historic bill by Ghana’s Parliament on Tuesday to abolish the death penalty in the country.

As I said during the Biennial High-Level Panel Discussion on the Question of the Death Penalty at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in February this year, infliction by the State of the death penalty – the most severe and irreversible of punishments – is profoundly difficult to reconcile with human dignity, and with the fundamental right to life. It is an atavistic relic from the past that should be shed in the 21st Century.

Ghana has not carried out a death sentence since 1993. However, at least 170 men and six women remain on death row in the country. Full abolition of the penalty in law will be a welcome relief for them and their families and marks a major milestone.

By amending the Criminal Offences Act, Ghana will become the 29th African country to abolish the death penalty, and the 124th worldwide, strengthening the growing global movement to make the death penalty a thing of the past.

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