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Death penalty: PH reminded of international obligations

opinion / Latest Opinion
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Death penalty: PH reminded of international obligations

12:02 AM December 13, 2016

We express serious concern over efforts by members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to restore the death penalty in the country.

On Nov. 29, 2016, the subcommittee on judicial reforms of the House committee on justice, which is chaired by Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso, railroaded the approval of a bill restoring the death penalty in the Philippines, ignoring important questions from other lawmakers questioning its need or urgency. This was done with so much haste that there was not even a report presented, contrary to 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.

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The Philippines has always been viewed as a regional and global leader in 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 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 more effective at deterring crime than alternative forms of punishment.

We call on the Philippine government to instead invest in better detection and investigation techniques and capacity, and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the country’s justice system. These measures are more likely to achieve real results in reducing crime.

We strongly urge House members to ensure that their discussions in the next few days on this bill restoring the death penalty will be based on evidence and facts.

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

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

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SIGNED BY 67 INTERNATIONAL, REGIONAL AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUALS BASED IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES LIKE AUSTRALIA, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE, TAIWAN, CANADA, THE UNITED STATES, PUERTO RICO, COLOMBIA, ITALY, MONTENEGRO, SOUTH AFRICA, IVORY COAST, BENIN, ZIMBABWE, GHANA, GUINEA BISSAU, ROMANIA, RUSSIA AND THE PHILIPPINES

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TAGS: Bill, death penalty, House of Representatives, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, UN
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