Death penalty an archaic form of punishment
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers is registering its objection to the proposed restoration of the death penalty.
On Dec. 7, 2016, the justice committee of the House of Representatives approved on second reading the bill restoring the death penalty. It is missing the point.
Death penalty has never been a deterrent to crime. Experience shows that crime rates continued to rise even during the time that the death penalty was in force.
Worse, the death penalty is an instrument of injustice considering that only the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized, the same segment of society who cannot afford to engage the service of competent lawyers of their choice, are the only ones who are convicted and sentenced to death.
The absence of competent legal representation, combined with a legal and judicial system that is tainted by partiality and corruption, makes this same segment of society vulnerable. In the end, only the poor and innocent would basically face the gallows, while the notorious and guilty ones would be spared.
This is a matter of serious concern to the NUPL, especially so because it represents clients who are often arrested, charged and singled out for prosecution because of their political beliefs. They are charged with contrived criminal complaints by state forces and/or their state agents to force their silence. And many of them are being charged with common crimes punishable by death under the approved bill.
Their cases can easily be railroaded. Perjured witnesses and manufactured evidence can ensure their conviction and the imposition of the death penalty against them. The reimposition of the death penalty will just be an added arsenal that state forces and their agents can use to harass and threaten political activists, advocates and ordinary citizens.
With the advent of restorative justice, which puts emphasis on the rehabilitation of offenders, the death penalty is now considered an archaic form of punishment. The restoration of the death penalty will reverse the gains made in the struggle for the protection and respect of human rights.
EPHRAIM CORTEZ, secretary general, CRISTINA YAMBOT, public information officer, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, [email protected]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.