Amnesty International has applauded President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for decongesting the country’s prisons by granting amnesty to 794 more prisoners as announced by the Ghana Prisons Service in its 30th June 2020 press release.
This is the second amnesty the President has granted this year.
The first one was for 808 prisoners in March.
Statistics obtained by Amnesty International Ghana, show that Ghana’s Prisons were overcrowded by 55.5% in 2019.
The carceral population was 15,463 instead of 9,945 standard capacity.
Mr Robert Akoto Amoafo, Director of Amnesty International Ghana, mentioned that “having the President grant amnesty to prisoners at this time of a pandemic is not only a good thing but a critical step to ensuring the limited spread of COVID-19 in the prisons. It also shows Ghana’s commitment to work toward decongesting our already-overcrowded prisons”.
While commending the President for the move, Amnesty International Ghana cautioned the government to desist from putting in place laws that promote custodial sentencing like the E.I. 164, which prescribes, as one of its sanctions, a custodial sentence of 4 to 10 years for a person found without a facemask.
“As a petty offence, we do not believe it will help the already-dire situation of overcrowding in our prisons,” Amnesty International Ghana said in a statement.
The human rights group also called on the government to provide a dedicated health facility to the Ghana Prisons Service to attend to prisoners who may be infected with COVID-19 to ensure they are able to control the security situation of the prisoners.
They further encouraged the government to put human rights at the centre of measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.