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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Ghana Has 137 Death Row Inmates - Amnesty International

Ghana
Mr Lawrence Amesu, the Director of Amnesty International Ghana, said a lot had been achieved towards ensuring that Ghana gained the status as abolitionist in practice.

He said Ghana had not executed anyone over the past 23 years even though the courts continued to sentence people to death, and "we have about 137 death row inmates, including 3 women, in our prisons currently".

Speaking at the launch of Advocacy Toolkit for Abolition of Death Penalty in West Africa, Mr Amesu said he believed that Amnesty International's submission with support from other civil society organisations and the opinion of the public had contributed to the recommendation that death penalty should be abolished in Ghana.

He said though West Africa was leading that progressive forward march, however, the Anglophone countries within the continent are dragging their feet while the Francophone countries including Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso had either abolished the death penalty or were doubling their steps towards achieving that.

Mr Amesu said the toolkit was very useful for the media, civil society organisations and para institutions which were advocating for the abolition of the death penalty in Ghana as well as all government institutions which had a stake in the process.

"The document will also be very useful for the youth not only as an advocacy tool but also as a knowledge acquisition document because it highlights and explains such terminologies as abolitionist, retentionist, clemency, exoneration, and pardon, among others," he added.

The document, he said, traced the history and achievements of Amnesty International's journey towards total abolition of the death penalty in the world while focusing a little more on the situation in Africa and West Africa.

The toolkit also highlights the international instruments and bodies that support the need for the abolition of the death penalty.

Dr Isaac Annan, a Director at CHRAJ, who chaired the function, said Ghana was Human Rights compliant as it ratified most of the United Nations Conventions and Resolutions, and reiterated the need for the country to abolish the death penalty as a sign of commitment.

Ms Sabrina Tucci, of Amnesty International Secretariat, London, noted that West Africa is a beacon of hope for the whole of Africa and urged civil society organisations to continue the campaign.

She called on governments to engage the public in debates on the issue.

Source: peacefmonline.com, September 4, 2016

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