General News of 2014-07-29

Mahama grants amnesty to over 1,000 prisoners

President John Mahama has granted amnesty to a total of 1,104 detainees at the country's prisons.

As part of the amnesty, 21 prisoners on death roll who have served at least 10 years had their sentences commuted to life.

A statement signed by Deputy Interior Minister, James Agalga, said the president was exercising his “Prerogative of Mercy under Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and in commemoration of the 54th Anniversary of Ghana’s Republic Day.”

Article 72 of the Constitution states that “The president may, acting in consultation with the Council of State:

a. grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions; or discount low price

b. grant to a person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of punishment imposed on him for an offence; or

c. substitute a less severe form of punishment for a punishment imposed on a person for an offence; or

d. remit the whole or part of a punishment imposed on a person or of a penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to Government on account on any offence.”

According to the statement, the Ghana Prisons Service Council made recommendations to President Mahama with regard to the amnesty.

The breakdown of all 1,104 prisoners, including the 21 prisoners on death roll, already mentioned above, who were granted the amnesty are as follows:

i. 1,001 first offenders who have served at least half of their sentences for outright release;

ii. 71 prisoners serving life sentences and have served at least 10 years had their sentences commuted to a definite term of 20 years;

iii. 9 seriously ill prisoners were recommended for outright release on medical grounds;

iv. One prisoner serving at the president’s pleasure was recommended by the Medical Board for outright release;

v. One person was released upon special recommendation.