REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES: Lawmakers must urgently oppose attempts to reintroduce death penalty

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7 Dec 2016
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Abolition of the Death Penalty

Members of the Philippines Congress must oppose bills aimed at reintroducing the death penalty, Amnesty International said today. The re-introduction of the death penalty would not only represent a major setback for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country but also violate the Philippines’ obligations under international law.

A sub-committee of the House of Representatives is currently considering seven bills that, if adopted, would reintroduce the death penalty for a wide array of crimes. In what appears to be an accelerated procedure, the bills could be considered before the end of 2016. The Philippines, which fully abolished the death penalty for the second time in 2006, is party to an international treaty that categorically prohibits executions and commits the country to the abolition of this punishment. These obligations cannot be withdrawn at any time.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances as a violation of the right to life, recognized by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights; and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It is an irrevocable punishment, imposed and administered through justice systems that can be vulnerable to discrimination and error.

At a time when more and more countries are abolishing this punishment and 141 in total are now abolitionist in law or practice, a move to reintroduce the death penalty would set the Philippines starkly against the global trend towards its abolition. It would also undermine the country’s strong track record of advocating for the commutation of the death sentences imposed on Filipino nationals abroad, such as overseas workers. The legal assistance and political pressure to those facing this punishment in other countries has undoubtedly contributed to the protection of their rights.

The proposed legislation would make crimes that do not involve intentional killing punishable by death, including drug-related offences. Under international law, in countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty, the punishment must be restricted to intentional killing.

There is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty has a deterrent effect. Statistics from countries that have abolished the death penalty show that the absence of the death penalty has not resulted in an increase in the crimes previously subject to capital punishment.

Amnesty International urges members of the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reforms of the Committee on Justice, and of the Congress more broadly, to reject in full the proposed legislation.

25 November 2016

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