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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES: The death penalty is an inhumane, unlawful and ineffective response to drugs

15 Mar 2017
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Abolition of the Death Penalty

Today, the House of Representatives of the Philippines adopted on its third and final reading of House Bill 4727, a measure put forward by President Duterte’s majority coalition to reintroduce the death penalty.

The adoption of a draft law by the Philippine House of Representatives to revive the death penalty sets the country on a dangerous path in flagrant violation of its international legal obligations, Amnesty International said today.
“The resumption of executions will not rid the Philippines of problems associated with drugs or deter crime. It is an inhumane, ineffective punishment and is never the solution. The Philippines’ attempts are clearly unlawful. This will just earn the country notoriety as one of the few countries to revive its horrific use,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The proposal was passed with 216 votes in favour, 54 against and one abstention. The Speaker of the House openly threatened to strip members of Congress of key positions if they dared to vote against the bill, or even abstain from voting. The bill will now go to the Senate.
“The Senate is now the Philippines’ last real hope of upholding its international obligations,” said Champa Patel.
The draft law has been passed at a time when the country is reeling from a wave of more than 8,000 deaths, many of them through extrajudicial executions in its “war on drugs” since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power on 30 June 2016.
Amnesty International is opposed to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances. Under international law, the death penalty must be restricted to most serious crimes, and drug related crimes do not meet this threshold. There is also no evidence to show that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.

In 2007 the Philippines ratified an international treaty that categorically prohibits executions and commits the country to the abolition of the death penalty. Legally, this obligation cannot be withdrawn at any time.
Since the death penalty was abolished in 2006, the Philippines has been a strong advocate against capital punishment and has championed several initiatives to this end in international forums. It has also worked to commute the death sentences imposed on Filipino nationals abroad, such as overseas workers.


As of today, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice; in the Asia Pacific region, 19 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a further eight are abolitionist in practice. The new Criminal Code of Mongolia abolishing the death penalty for all crimes will become effective in July 2017.

7 March 2017

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