Justice Avril Lovelace Johnson who has been nominated to the Supreme Court bench says the death penalty in Ghana's criminal justice system is "very terrible."
According to her, the judiciary is made up of human beings who can make mistakes. "Death is the end of everything, what if we make a mistake and the person is already dead," she questioned.
Justice Avril Lovelace Johnson together with two other justices Mariama Owusu and Gertrude Torkornoo, all of whom are female justices of the Court of Appeal, have been nominated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the Supreme Court, subject to approval by Parliament.
Appearing before the Appointment Committee of Parliament on Monday [December 9, 2019], and answering a question on her view of the death penalty, Justice Lovelace Johnson said for her, her basic objection to the death penalty was the fact that judges are humans and can make mistakes.
"That is basic, that is where I start from apart from the fact that the death penalty might infringe the right of someone or so, the possibility that judges can make a mistake, the person is killed only to find later that there was a mistake. For that reason alone, I'm anti the death penalty," she stressed.
Adding, Justice Lovelace Johnson said in 2002 whilst as a High Court judge and she was slated to sit on the assizes had to sentence someone to death, "those things we did it through a whole ceremony. They put a black cloth on your head, the court clerk will sit and say... and make some pronouncements about you being hanged by the neck until you die, and that your body will be buried at a place at the pleasure of the president, I was shaking like a leaf, when I imposed the sentence. I didn't sleep for about a month. With that in mind, the judiciary is made up of human beings, we can make mistakes, death is the end of everything, so what if we make a mistake and the person is already dead. For me that is the basic, that is where I start from apart from the fact that the death penalty might infringe a right of a someone or so, the possibility that judges can make a mistake and the person is killed only to find later that there was a mistake, for that reason alone, I'm anti the death penalty.
Article 144 (2) of the 1992 Constitution states that the President consults with the Council of State by submitting the names and curriculum vitae of nominees for appointment to the Supreme Court.
After the completion of consultations with the Council of State, in accordance with Article 144 (2), the President then has to seek the approval of Parliament for the appointment of the nominees as justices of the Supreme Court.
The last Supreme Court appointments were made in July 2018. They involved four justices, namely, Justice Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Justice Agnes M. A. Dordzie, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey and Nene A. O. Amegatcher.
The current three new nominations are to replace three female justices of the Supreme Court, two of whom had retired, with one due for retirement by the end of December 2019. They are the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, who retires on December 20, 2019, and Justices Vida Akoto-Bamfo and Sophia Adinyira, who have both retired.