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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Amnesty International: 'Yes' vote on death penalty will shame Philippines

The House of Representatives
The House of Representatives
Members of the House of Representatives should reflect before voting on the reimplementation of the death penalty, Amnesty International Philippines said Thursday, adding a 'yes' vote would bring shame to the Philippines.

"Amnesty International maintains that instead of pushing the death penalty as a solution to criminality, the government should ensure a determined institutional reform as a means to confront crime while upholding justice and human rights in the country," lawyer Romeo Cabarde Jr., Amnesty International Philippines vice chairperson, said in a statement.

He said the group, which has been attending House plenary debates on the measure, is dismayed that members of the House supermajority seemingly refused to hear arguments against the death penalty.

The House of Representatives approved the measure to reimpose the death penalty for drug offenses on second reading Tuesday night.

A 3rd reading is scheduled on Monday, March 6.

Even if passed on 3rd and final reading, the proposal will still need the Senate to pass a counterpart bill. Once passed and consolidated by a bicameral conference committee, the bill will be sent to Malacanang for the president's signature.

Cabarde said that reinstating the death penalty undermines the government's to respect, protect, and uphold human rights.

"A 'yes' vote to reinstate the death penalty is a shame and an affront to the country's history as a strong nation leading the human rights discourse in Asia," Cabarde said.

Wilnor Papa, AI Campaigns Coordinator for the Philippines, said in an interview that rights advocates are dismayed and saddened that the proponents of the death penalty seemed to be rushing the bill.

He added that it is clear that the lawmakers ignored the strong arguments against the bill since they are pushing for retribution through killing.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said in July 2016 that the reimposition of death penalty and a shift to federalism would be the House's priority measures.

Alvarez and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House Justice committee, have argued that the death penalty would be preferable to extrajudicial killings.

Rights groups, including the Commission on Human Rights, have been vocal about their opposition to the death penalty, which they say is a kind of cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the 1987 Constitution.

They also say a return to the death penalty would violate international agreements that the Philippines is party to and is not an effective deterrent to crime anyway.

"The failure of the death penalty as a crime deterrent is globally recognized and the government should maintain the prohibition on its use,"Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch said in December.

Source: philstar.com, March 3, 2017

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