[Statement] PhilRights Statement During the Public Hearing on the Re-imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines

PhilRights Statement During the Public Hearing on the Re-imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines

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The Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) stands witho ther defenders of human rights and advocates of human dignity in opposing the re-imposition of the death penalty in the Philippines for the following reasons:

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1.     On June 24, 2006,the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act 9346, prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty in the Philippines.This landmark legislation was lauded not only by Filipinos but also by the international community as a sign of the country’s commitment to life and human dignity.

2.     On November 20, 2007, the Philippines, through the Philippine Senate, ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This Protocol aims to abolish the death penalty, with all States parties who have ratified the Protocol being convinced that all measures of abolition of the death penalty should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life.”

3.     For the information of this Committee, the Philippines, as a signatory to this Protocol, has expressly agreed that “No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed. Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.” (Article 1, paragraphs 1 and 2)

4.     By ratifying this Protocol, the Philippines affirmed its commitment to the right to life and joined the international community in working for the enhancement and progressive realization of human rights. If the Philippines re-imposes capital punishment, it would be breaking its commitment to international human rights standards to which it had previously affirmed.

5.     In the same vein,the Philippines co-sponsored and voted for a series of United Nations General Assembly Resolutions in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012 which calls for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and urged States to respect international standards that protect the rights of those facing the death penalty, to progressively restrict its use and reduce the number of offences which are punishable by death.

6.     As recently as October 10, 2014, in keeping with the celebration of the World Day against the Death Penalty, the Philippines again led the global movement for universal abolition when, along with eleven other States, it signed the International Joint Declaration urging other States to abolish the death penalty.

There is no place for state-sanctioned killing in a modern justice system. PhilRights has always been firm in the belief that the death penalty is not the best deterrent to crime, as empirical evidence has proven time and again; instead, it can lead to the commission of a crime, when, for example, an innocent person is condemned to death. The risk of such a miscarriage of justice, for which there is no possible restitution or reparation, is always present even in the most ideal judicial system.

It is for this very reason that the trend is towards the universal abolition of the death penalty. Even in countries where the death penalty has yet to be abolished, they have either ended it in practice (by declaring an official moratorium or by not carrying out executions) or taken steps to narrow its scope. It will be embarrassing for the Philippines to espouse universal abolition at the international arena while taking thousands of steps back to the dark ages of state-sanctioned executions.

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