Help us fight for every person facing the death penalty

by The Death Penalty Project

Help us fight for every person facing the death penalty

by The Death Penalty Project
The Death Penalty Project
Case Owner
The Death Penalty Project is an international legal action NGO based in London.
on 29th November 2022
pledged of £25,000 stretch target from 153 pledges
The Death Penalty Project
Case Owner
The Death Penalty Project is an international legal action NGO based in London.

Latest: Dec. 21, 2023

An update on our work

Thank you again for your support to our CrowdJustice appeal, helping us sustain our critical work. Here are some highlights of what we achieved this year.

In The Bahamas, the Judicial Committee of the…

Read more

"I would like to thank all the team at The Death Penalty Project for not only saving my father’s life, but for also securing his release. Families like mine are indebted to you, the work you do not only saves your clients lives, but you also save the lives of us the families, as you give us hope." - Sandra, the daughter of one of our former death row clients.

We are The Death Penalty Project, an international legal action NGO based in London. We use the law to create change by challenging unsafe convictions (resulting from errors or irregularities at trial) and criminal justice systems that allow people to be sentenced death.

  • We represent free of charge those facing the death penalty, and other vulnerable prisoners.

  • We deliver targeted and practical capacity building and training to members of the judiciary, lawyers, mental health professionals and those working within criminal justice systems to improve standards and in turn limit the use of the death penalty. 

  • We commission original research to deepen the understanding around the death penalty, and challenge misconceptions. 

  • We engage with policymakers in countries that retain the death penalty around the world to advocate for abolition. 

Today, we are working in more than 30 countries around the world to help achieve our vision of a world free from capital punishment, as well as assisting individuals on death row and those in need of legal assistance. In 2021, we provided legal assistance to 85 people.    

Everybody deserves the right to a fair trial, yet globally legal aid is limited. Free legal representation is at the heart of The Death Penalty Project’s work. We provide a vital legal lifeline to our clients across the world and over the past 30 years have saved thousands of people from execution.

Behind every statistic there is a person.

We have been able to provide even more people with free legal representation. In 2023, we assisted 93 people in 20 jurisdictions. We will continue helping those in need of legal assistance across the globe. One death penalty case we are currently working on is Akua's.*

Akua's story

Convicted for the murder of her ex-partner in 2010 and sentenced to death, Akua has been on death row in Ghana for 12 years. At trial, Akua described how her ex-partner would mistreat their three children. When she confronted him about this, he attacked her with a cutlass (a sword like blade used in farming). As an act of self-defence and in the heat of the moment, her retaliation to the attack caused her ex-partner’s death. She immediately handed herself over to the police and explained what she had done.

There were severe delays to Akua’s trial process, which was ultimately unfair and poorly conducted. From the date she was arrested, Akua’s case took three and a half years to conclude. The Court only sat for seven days in this period. The trial was disjointed and favourable to the prosecution. At the time the jury were asked to consider their verdict, they had not heard anything in Akua’s defence for over six months.

Not only did Akua suffer an unfair trial procedure due to delayed and disjointed timings, but there have been serious concerns over the impartiality of the judge. In a criminal trial, a judge’s role is to neutrally explain and summarise the evidence which the jury has heard. The judge did not do this in Akua’s case.

The judge took a side, telling the jury that it would “…not be difficult” for them to decide Akua was guilty of murder and describing Akua as “…the aggressor”. The last memorable aspect of the case the jury heard prior to sentencing Akua to death, was the judge’s inaccurate summary of the case, which would have clouded the jury’s verdict.

Since 2019, The Death Penalty Project has provided Akua with free legal representation on her case, working to challenge her conviction and overturn her death sentence. We are currently awaiting a hearing in the Ghana Court of Appeal.  

In July 2023, Ghana made history and abolished the death penalty for all ordinary and military crimes. The Death Penalty Project worked closely with several Parliamentarians, local human rights organisations and the diplomatic community supporting crucial moves to abolition and are very proud of our role in this huge human rights win. Following abolition, all people on death row in Ghana were made eligible for resentencing. We are currently working with our partner Legal Resources Centre (LRC Ghana) to bring a series of appeals for people who were on death row, including Akua*. We remain committed to abolish and restrict the use of capital punishment worldwide.

*A pseudonym is used to protect the individual’s identity as well as that of her family.

More help is needed - Donate now

The vast majority of people facing the death penalty lack the financial resources to challenge their convictions and death sentences. Many of those we support have been stripped of their basic human rights and abandoned on death row.

Your donation will help is represent more people and enable greater access to justice.

Take action now and join us in promoting fairer criminal justice systems and procedures - please donate and share this page far and wide on social media or on WhatsApp. 

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Update 4

The Death Penalty Project

Dec. 21, 2023

An update on our work

Thank you again for your support to our CrowdJustice appeal, helping us sustain our critical work. Here are some highlights of what we achieved this year.

In The Bahamas, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council – the final court of appeal for several commonwealth countries – quashed the unsafe conviction of Vinson Ariste. Vinson was wrongfully convicted and forced to confess to a crime he did not commit. Beaten and denied access to a lawyer whilst in police detention, he suffered a serious miscarriage of justice. In May 2023, he was finally released and his name cleared, after having spent over 12 years in prison. Vinson’s case is an example of how we work to promote fair trial standards and rights-respecting criminal justice systems. Read his story here.

In November 2023, Wenceslaus James, the longest serving death row inmate in Trinidad and Tobago, was released by the High Court. In 1996, he was sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for the murder of a taxi driver, and spent over three decades in custody, including 24 years on death row. Much of this time was spent effectively in solitary confinement. Early on in his detention Wenceslaus was subjected to several horrifying experiences. In 1999, he was read his warrant of execution and taken to a cell awaiting his hanging. Then, without explanation, he was not executed and returned to his cell. That same day Wenceslaus heard the execution of his cell mate and co-defendant, Antony Briggs. That same year he experienced the trauma of hearing nine further executions take place. Wenceslaus’ story illustrates the inhumanity and suffering that people subjected to the death penalty can experience. Find out more here.

In July 2023, the Parliament of Ghana abolished capital punishment for all ordinary and military crimes, making Ghana the 29th country in Africa to abolish the death penalty. Our close collaboration with key parliamentarians, including Hon. Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu who introduced the bills to parliament, policy makers, civil society organisations and other key stakeholders, played a pivotal role. Read more here. Following abolition, we are continuing to support our partner the Legal Resources Centre (LRC Ghana) to bring series of appeals for people who were on death row at the time of abolition.

Thank you for supporting our CrowdJustice appeal. Our appeal page remains active and we continue to accept donations. 

To stay up to date with our work, please join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe

The Death Penalty Project

Update 3

The Death Penalty Project

Jan. 9, 2023

New Year Update from The Death Penalty Project

At the end of 2022, we received a judgment in a landmark case brought on behalf of three individuals under sentence of death challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty in Guyana. The Court of Appeal declined to strike down the death penalty and the punishment remains lawful in Guyana. Whilst the Court of Appeal’s judgment was disappointing, as the Court did not find the death penalty to be unlawful, the death sentences of the three appellants were overturned and replaced with life sentences.

Supported by The Death Penalty Project and barristers from London’s Doughty Street Chambers, the legal team in Guyana argued that the death penalty is arbitrary, irrational, disproportionate and contrary to the rule of law. The legal submissions were bolstered by evidence from leading academics that made clear that the death penalty does not deter serious crime more than a life sentence would.

The legal team is now preparing to further appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice seeking an end to capital punishment in Guyana. The Caribbean Court of Justice will be asked to consider carefully all the empirical evidence that demonstrates how unfair and ineffective death sentences are. 

Your donation will significantly contribute to our legal work across the globe as we use the law to challenge and change criminal justice systems, to uphold human rights and the dignity of all individuals. 

Guyana remains the only country in South America to retain the death penalty and we are resolved to abolish the death penalty in the country and globally. In 2021, Guyana had 4 recorded death sentences and 27 people were known to be under sentence of death at the end of 2021. Donate now.

Update 2

The Death Penalty Project

Nov. 29, 2022

Huge thank you! We have reached our first target!

Today, we have reached our first fundraising target! Bringing our total raised so far to £5,079. 

As we have met our initial target, we have now moved on to our 'stretch' target meaning our appeal is still live and we are continuing to accept further donations. 

We also wanted to share with you a message from us, on why your donations are so important, watch our YouTube video here

From all of us at The Death Penalty Project, thank you for your support. 

Update 1

The Death Penalty Project

Nov. 21, 2022

Almost 3/4 of the way to our first target!

Huge thank you to everyone for the support over the last 15 days. Thanks to the generosity of 94 people, we have raised £3,520 of our first target for our appeal!

The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment, often affecting the poor and marginalised. With our legal expertise, we support people on death row and those facing the death penalty around the world, to ensure that as many people as possible do not face the justice system alone.

Again, a big thank you to everyone who has pledged to donate. Please continue to share the link to our appeal with your networks and together we can reach our first fundraising target.

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