"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, December 8, 2016

UN: Philippines will violate international pact if it restores death penalty

Al Hussein pointed out that the Philippines passed Republic Act 9346 in 2006, abolishing capital punishment. It also ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to abolish the death penalty.

"When a State ratifies the Second Option Protocol to ICCPR, it guarantees that no one can be executed within its jurisdiction," he said.

"International law does not permit a State that has ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to denounce it or withdraw from it," the commissioner added.

"The Philippines would violate its obligations under international human rights law if it reintroduced the death penalty, I appeal to you and all members of Congress to uphold the international human rights obligations of the Philippines and maintain the abolition of the death penalty," Al Hussein said.

He said that there is no "denunciation clause" in the protocol "thereby guaranteeing the permanent non-reintroduction of the death penalty by States that ratified the Protocol."

Al Hussein also said that the ICCPR, which the Philippines is a party to, only allows States with capital punishment to apply the death sentence for the most serious crimes.

"On various occasions, the Human Rights Committee has determined that drug-related offenses did not meet the threshold of 'most serious crimes,'" he said.

He also said that the International Narcotics Control Board, which monitors State compliance with drug control treaties, "considers that the use of the death penalty for drug crimes is incompatible under international law."

Innocent people killed


Al Hussein said that "decades of research" have proven that there is "no reliable evidence that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime."

"What we do know is that executions have led to the wrongful killing of many innocent people across the world," he said. "The use of the death penalty leaves no room for human error, with the gravest of consequences."

He pointed out that statistics also show that death penalty "disproportionately discriminates against the poor and most marginalized individuals and subsequently results in social injustice."

Stronger rule of law, an effective justice system and a strong public health approach are most effective in addressing drug-related offenses, Al Hussein said.

Source: inquirer.net, December 8, 2016

Congress should block effort to reintroduce death penalty


Statement signed by 70 organizations and individuals

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, express serious concern over the rapid efforts by members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to adopt a bill restoring the death penalty in the country.

On 29 November 2016, the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reforms of the House Committee on Justice, which is chaired by Congressman Marcelino "Ching" Veloso, approved a bill restoring the death penalty in the Philippines by railroading the proceedings in the committee and ignoring important questions from other lawmakers questioning the need for the legislation or its urgent passage.

The decision to approve such a bill by the sub-committee was done with so much haste that there was not even a report presented, as is the normal practice, on the discussions and information presented in the previous hearings.

The Philippines is a State Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which means that it is obliged not to carry out executions within its jurisdiction and not to reintroduce the death penalty.

The Philippines has always been viewed as a regional and global leader on the drive to abolish the death penalty around the world. Bringing back the death penalty into its laws would be an enormous step backward for the country, signaling a comprehensive degradation of respect for the right to life and other international legal obligations.

The UN General Assembly has repeatedly adopted resolutions by overwhelming majorities, calling on all States that retain the death penalty to impose a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing it.

We categorically and absolutely oppose the death penalty in any and all circumstances and consider its use to be a violation of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.

It cannot be emphasized enough that significant and overwhelming evidence shows that the death penalty is not effective at deterring crime at a greater rate than alternative forms of punishment.

We call on the Government of the Philippines to instead invest in improved detection and investigation techniques and capacity, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system. These measures are more likely to achieve real results in reducing crime.

We strongly urge members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to ensure their discussions in the next few days on this bill restoring the death penalty are based on evidence and facts.

We strongly urge members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines not to view this as a purely political exercise and instead seriously consider not only what the impact of the passage of this bill will have on the international obligations of the Philippines, but also on how it would affect the notions of justice and human rights in the country.

We appeal to members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to stop further attempts to reintroduce the death penalty and to block any legislation that subverts human rights.

Source: fidh.org, December 8, 2016

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