Philippines: Congress should block effort to reintroduce death penalty
The Philippines House of Representatives must immediately cease efforts to rush through legislation restoring the death penalty, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said today.
On 29 November 2016, the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reform, which is chaired by Congressman Marcelino “Ching” Veloso, hastened the passage of a bill restoring the death penalty in the Philippines.
According to reports received by the ICJ, ex-officio members of the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reform railroaded the proceedings and ignored important questions from other lawmakers questioning the need for the legislation or its urgent passage. The Sub-Committee did not present any report, as is the normal practice, on the discussions and information presented in the previous hearings.
“Filipino lawmakers seem intent on embracing the barbaric practice of executions purely as a political measure, without any understanding or even proper discussion of the death penalty’s impact or what their actions would mean to the international obligations of the Philippines,” said Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia.
A representative of the ICJ spoke at the hearing of the Sub-Committee on 22 November 2016, and brought to the lawmakers’ attention the country’s obligations under the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the general prohibition on reintroduction of capital punishment once abolished, which commit the country not to execute anyone within its jurisdiction.
“There are already thousands of alleged cases of extrajudicial killings in the country. This bill, if it becomes law, will unquestionably usher the Philippines into a dark period where respect for the right to life is comprehensively degraded,” Gil emphasized.
The ICJ has previously written to President Rodrigo Duterte underscoring that the evidence shows that death penalty is not effective at deterring crime at a greater rate than alternative forms of punishment. Investing in improved detection and investigation techniques and capacity, and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system, is more likely to achieve real results in reducing crime.
The ICJ categorically opposes the death penalty and considers its use to be a violation of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.
The UN General Assembly has repeatedly adopted resolutions by overwhelming majorities, calling on all retentionist States to impose a moratorium with a view to abolition.
Ms. Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s Senior International Legal Adviser
Telephone: +66 840923575