Ghana’s parliament has voted to outlaw the death penalty for almost all crimes, becoming the latest African country to repeal capital punishment, lawmakers said on Wednesday.
The West African country last carried out an execution in 1993, with death sentences handed out for murder and treason.
Lawmakers voted late Tuesday to remove the death penalty from the country’s statute books.
“The death sentence is too final, and as a country that respects human rights, we can’t continue to have it as part of our laws,” Francis-Xavier Sosu, an opposition MP who proposed the reform.
“It’s a proud moment and I am looking forward to the presidential assent.”
The prison service said 172 prisoners are currently on death row and will have their terms converted to life imprisonment.
Rights group Amnesty International called the vote a major step to abolishing the death penalty by taking it out from a 1960 criminal offence act and also from a 1962 armed forces act.
“Although a landmark decision, the total abolition of this draconian punishment would not be complete without revising the constitution, which still provides for high treason to be punishable by death,” it said.
Amnesty said 23 out of 55 African countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
“The shift from the death penalty to life imprisonment represents a crucial step towards embracing international human rights positions,” said Alexander Afenyo-Markin, deputy majority leader.
“This clearly shows that we respect human rights.”