Tag Archives: Death Penalty

[Statement] Of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) on current movements in Congress to enact a death penalty law

STATEMENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF MAJOR RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS IN THE PHILIPPINES (AMRSP) ON CURRENT MOVEMENTS IN CONGRESS TO ENACT A DEATH PENALTY LAW

The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) has, time and again, declared its resolute opposition to the death penalty. Our life-giving and healing faith demands of us to value each and every single human being, each and every single creation, as a gift from our loving and compassionate God.

Ours is a God overflowing with love and compassion. Let us imitate him. Ours is a church that welcomes all, even the worst sinners, for we believe that God awaits their conversion. We have a God and Church that forgives, a God and Church that sees the dignity of us all — rich and poor, powerful and powerless, privileged and marginalized.

Thus, we are deeply concerned with the revival of the death penalty proposal in Congress. Are not the extrajudicial killings and deaths due to COVID-19 enough? Are we like the ancient people who offered human sacrifices to appease their gods? Are we gods ourselves whose thirst for human blood is so insatiable and who are addicted to more deaths? Have we run out of imagination that we have to resort to the death penalty as a convenient means to decongest our detention facilities? Should we not improve our justice system instead by appropriating more funds for it?

Now, even Sacred Scripture is used to justify the pro-death penalty stance. We are disheartened by this hazardous interpretation of the Bible proposed by some who says that since Jesus Christ was sentenced to die on the cross, the death penalty, therefore, is acceptable.

As taught in our schools and churches, may of all us – including you, our lawmakers – be reminded that Jesus Christ was brought before Pilate on false charges, prosecuted by a mock trial and convicted by popular acclamation. It was a travesty of justice that compelled Pontius Pilate to wash his hands of the evil deed. Sadly, many Christians loudly proclaim that death is acceptable and just. Again, let us be reminded that Jesus willingly died on the cross so that no one else – including you in government – will the same fate.

It is instructive for us to review what the Magisterium of the Catholic Church teaches about the death penalty.

On May 11, 2018, Pope Francis formally approved the modification of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), declaring that the death penalty is unacceptable in all cases. Prior to this, Church doctrine accepted the death penalty if it was “the only practicable way” to defend lives against unjust aggressors. According to Cardinal Luis Ladaria SJ, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “the new formulation of the Catechism expresses an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium.” [1]

The revised text of CCC no. 2267 says that “(t)oday, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.” He adds that “more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.” [2] It is for this reason that the Church teaches that the practice is now inadmissible.

Above all, the Pope teaches us that death penalty “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor.” [3]

On the practical side, there is no proof that the imposition of the death penalty will deter the commission of crimes. In fact, because of our flawed justice system, it is the poor who cannot afford their counsel and who are without connections who stand vulnerable to the death penalty. In a time when most of the world’s nations – including nearly every nation in Europe and Latin America – have already banned the death penalty[4], legalizing it once more in the Philippines time is not a sign of retrogression – not progression – as a country.

The Scripture says: “Thus, says the Lord, ‘Today, I call heaven and earth to witness against you: I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live.’” (Dt. 30, 19)

 

Signed:

Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM
Sr. Marilyn A. Java, RC
AMRSP Co-Chairpersons
August 15, 2020

___________________________________

[1] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops Regarding the Revision of Number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Death Penalty (1 August 2018), 8.
[2] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, New revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty – Rescriptum “ex Audentia SS.mi” (2 August 2018).
[3] Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5.
[4] Amnesty International, Global Report on Death Sentences and Execution 2019, London, 2020, 54-55.

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[Statement] iDEFEND and UATC reiterate its opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty in the country

File Photo from PhilRights FB page.

World Day Against Death Penalty
October 10, 2019

Immediately upon assuming office, neophyte Senators Bong Go and Ronald De La Rosa filed proposed legislation reinstating the death penalty, along with 19 others in both Houses of Congress. This is in keeping with the order of President Duterte during his 2019 state of the nation address. Senator Manny Pacquiao said this is in line with God’s will because Jesus Christ was crucified. Many debates thence focused on the method of execution- hanging, firing squad, lethal injection.

The reimposition of death penalty is being pushed to support the war on drugs which is currently mired in scandal due to so-called ‘ninja cops’- police involved in recycling seized drugs and planting them on drug suspects, the mixed messages of President Duterte about military generals being involved in drug recycling, and the feud between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

While legislators insist that the death penalty will curb drug trafficking, President Duterte said it is simply for revenge on behalf of the families of victims of heinous, drug-fueled crimes. Meanwhile, illicit drugs continue to be traded particularly in the Davao region, drug lords continue to evade justice, and the thousands of victims of extrajudicial execution have yet to be found guilty of the crimes they were killed for.

In a 2018 survey, less than 50 percent of respondents supported the death penalty for particular crimes. The majority of the people’s priorities still consist of livelihood, inflation, health, and education. Another survey revealed that 21 percent of Filipinos (21 million) live in poverty. Deutsche Bank recently even ranked Manila among the lowest in the quality of life, income, safety, health care, traffic commute, and pollution. These conditions remain the biggest factors that give rise to criminality including drug trafficking.

To date, there has been no scientific evidence of capital punishment’s deterrence to crime nor its ability to end drug trafficking. In the face of such a magnitude of corruption in law enforcement agencies waging the war on drugs, the suspicion of the involvement of the highest officials of the land and the continued trade in illegal drugs, the death penalty will only set more fuel to the fire of Duterte’s failing anti-drug campaign.

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) and the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC) reiterate its opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty in the country.

The government’s trigger-happy solutions to complex, decades-long problems that feed widespread inequality and marginalization will only result in tyranny taking root over a desperate population. The government must do the hard work of sustainably addressing poverty as well as the work of reforming the justice system. Anything less will only replicate the horrors of the war on drugs, where the poor suffered the brunt of its execution. The death penalty will most surely victimize the poor, exempt the rich, and perpetuate the violent culture of death permeating our society.

#EndTheAssault on the Right to Life!

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[Statement] Joint Statement: Call for Asian Countries to End the Death Penalty and Respect the Right to Life -Forum-Asia

Joint Statement: Call for Asian Countries to End the Death Penalty and Respect the Right to Life

(Bangkok, 10 October 2018) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM–ASIA) and 22 civil society organisations in Asia condemn the recent imposition of the death penalty by the Singaporean authorities on Abdul Wahid Bin Ismail, Mohsen Bin Na’im, and Zainudin bin Mohamed. All three were convicted of drug related offences and were executed on 5 October 2018. As a network of human rights organisations, FORUM-ASIA sees the death penalty as a grave violation of the right to life – the most fundamental and essential human right for other rights to be realised. It serves no purpose to the State and its people in their pursuit of justice. We therefore call on the Government of Singapore, and other governments in Asia that retain the death penalty to immediately impose a moratorium to the death penalty, as a first step towards its abolition.

The use of the death penalty has seen a global decline in the recent years, signifying a movement towards more effective ways of deterring crimes. Despite this global trend, several governments in Asia continue to use the death penalty. Just this year, India expanded the scope of crimes covered by the death penalty. The numbers of those sentenced to capital punishment in Bangladesh yearly remains unabated. The region has also seen an increased tendency to use the death penalty for drug-related offences. Indonesia has been executing primarily those convicted of drug trafficking in recent years. It is estimated that China executes hundreds to thousands yearly for drug trafficking or murder, although exact figures are hard to find. The Sri Lankan Cabinet recently approved the President’s proposal to take steps towards implementing the capital punishment to those sentenced to death for drug offences and who continue to operate ‘drug rackets’ while in prison. In the Philippines, several State officials continue to push for the revival of the death penalty, despite having previously committed itself to its abolition.

Governments continue to retain the death penalty despite troubling concerns. There is no convincing evidence to support that the death penalty deters crime. In Mongolia, the death penalty was abolished after it was recognised that the threat of execution did not have a deterrent effect. Arguments for its use are based more on public opinion rather than on solid scientific evidence. The effect of the death penalty disproportionately affects those who are often the poor and the most marginalised, as they have limited access to resource and power. Judicial systems worldwide are all susceptible to abuse. In Vietnam, the cases of Ho Duy Hai and Le Van Manh, who were sentenced to death despite gaps in evidence and allegations of police impunity, cast strong doubts on the credibility of the judicial system. Capital punishment is irreversible; it violates the right to life and the right to live free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – fundamental rights of all human beings. It goes against our goals of promoting rehabilitation for the convicted, and the values and standards and universal human rights we all stand for.

On the World Day against the Death Penalty, we express our grave concern on the continuing use of the death penalty in Asia. We call on all governments to work for the abolition of the death penalty and to create a justice system that can respect human rights for all, including the perpetrators and the victims. Only when we respect the right to life and dignity of all can we move towards a global humane society.

The statement is endorsed by:

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia
Community Resource Centre, Thailand
Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC), Nepal
Equality Myanmar, Myanmar
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
Human Rights Alert, India
INFORM, Sri Lanka
Law & Society Trust, Sri Lanka
National (Catholic) Commission for Justice and Peace
Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA), Bangladesh
Maldivian Democracy Network, Maldives
Odhikar, Bangladesh
People’s Watch, India
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), India
Suara Rakyat Malaysia, Malaysia
Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Philippines
Think Centre, Singapore
Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, Vietnam
Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia

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[Statement] Senate Urged to Junk Death Penalty Bills to Avert Negative Economic Implications, Deeper Poverty -Lakbay-Buhay

Senate Urged to Junk Death Penalty Bills to Avert Negative Economic Implications, Deeper Poverty

Manila- A major coalition of civil society, faith-based organizations and the Catholic Church  called on Senate Thursday, 24th May to junk all proposed bills filed to reimpose death penalty in the country due to massive social and economic implications that would exacerbate poverty in the country. Rising inequality and a crisis in human rights is a lethal mix that seriously undermines the Philippines’ efforts in making a progressive leap towards a more developed and industrialized nation.

There are some 100 organizations that have banded together to ensure that there will be no law reinstating death penalty. The 1987 Constitution which had a very strong language on human rights and Bill of Rights abolished capital punishment under Art. 3 Section 19, but with an opening for Congress to reinstate it for compelling reasons: “unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes.”  Capital Punishment was reimposed in 1999 under former President Fidel Ramos and it was abolished in 2006 under then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Amidst alarming reports of continuing extra-judicial killings perpetrated by State forces and unidentified armed assassins, the House of Representatives approved a special law on capital punishment covering drug related crimes. Despite this, there have been no big drug syndicates targeted in police operations and no suspected high-value targets have been arrested.

The growing alarm at the Duterte administration’s hurried move to revive capital punishment was dramatized in a 19-day march from Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao to Senate by a group representing the vulnerable and marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples, women, youth, farmers and urban poor. They aimed to challenge the survey revealing that three out of five Filipinos favour death penalty.

“Capital punishment is the most inhumane form of human rights violations and this has massive implications on our lives as a people and a nation.  When the Duterte administration started its drug war, it was very evident that only the poor were persecuted through extra-judicial killings. We are alarmed. When death penalty covering drug crimes is institutionalized, we, the poor will be the primary victims. We can never afford to defend ourselves under a very retributive and flawed  justice system that we have at the moment,” Romulo Dumalag Jr. 33,  a pilgrim of LakbayBuhay from Sentro Labor group stated in a press conference.

The group asserts that a Death Penalty law is anti-poor because it discriminates against the poor, the mentally ill and juveniles. It takes a long time to resolve issues in court and cost of defense is very restrictive for the poor. In a study by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG ), “Back in 2004 the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) did a survey of 890 death row inmates. Among other things, FLAG found that 79% of death row inmates did not reach college and 63% were previously employed in blue-collar work in sectors like agriculture, transport, and construction.” FLAG stated that most of the rich inmates were able to afford decent legal assistance or a battery of lawyers to defend themselves in court.

Senate has yet to discuss the bills filed by Senators Manny Pacquaio, Tito Sotto and PanfiloLacson. “While we get assurance that Senate does not seem keen on passing it, we want to urge Senate to categorically commit to junk the bills. Not only do we have  treaty obligations especially respecting the 2nd Optional Protocols on the UN Convention of International, Civil and Political Rights which abolishes the death penalty but there are grave implications to our GSP+  (Generalized Scheme of Preference) status granted by the EU in 2014. GSP+ provides minimal to zero tariff for our exports to the EU,” NinianSumadia from the youth sector and one of the 15 pilgrims stated.

The GSP+ is usually granted when a country successfully ratifies and implements international conventions relating to human and labour rights, the environment and good governance.  The GSP+ status of the country now covers some 6,274 products boosting economic growth in the export industry and local economy. President Duterte has recently declared that the Philippines is no longer accepting aid from the EU as it has secured new investment pledges from China.

“If we measure the impacts of our current status in the EU while we protect our democratic institutions, it is all worth it to junk the the death penalty proposals. We have protected our rights for a long time and we continue to fight for our economic rights and improvement of our quality of lives. This is why we have marched, ran and journeyed from Cagayan de Oro to the Philippine Senate in Manila to dramatize our plea. We need lands, we need the coco levy funds, decent housing, agricultural productivity and support for the young and women farmers, quality jobs and proper education for our youth. The banner of this movement is economic empowerment- not death,” popular running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, the pilgrims’ spiritual adviser stated.

The 15 pilgrims called on the three Senators to make a choice in favour of protecting people’s lives. The pilgrims called on government to stop treating the drug issue as a mere police problem but a social and medical problem.

“Government should end the language of war and violence, and address the root cause of the drugs issue, including meaningful approaches to the supply side, effective law enforcement in relation to powerful drug lords, and inculcating a comprehensive  anti-poverty program. Criminality will be deterred only if we have a restorative justice system. Let us not lose hope on life, let us not lose hope for the poor. As a representative of the youth, we will not tolerate a culture of killing and impunity, ”Sumadia concluded.

The pilgrimage  backed-up by nationwide civil society and faith-based organizations will vigorously continue a massive popular education and awareness program to make more Filipinos analyze the impact of death penalty in the country.  -30-

Reference:     SocBanzuela 0917 541 0541
Heidi Fernandez 0905 362 2195

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[Campaign] Lakbay-buhay

Lakbay-Buhay

A 21-day multi-sectoral march-caravan from Cagayan de Oro to Manila to stop the Death Penalty bills from passing the Senate

https://web.facebook.com/JunkDeathPenalty/

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[Statement] NOW MORE THAN EVER IS THE TIME TO MARCH, RESIST, STRUGGLE!

NOW MORE THAN EVER IS THE TIME TO MARCH, RESIST, STRUGGLE!

Filipino women from across all sectors have fought long and tough struggles–and have won many. In the past decades, we asserted for better working conditions for workers, pushed for lands for farmersand decent housing for the urban poor,fought and brought down a dictatorship, claimed our reproductive rights, and resisted sexual and other forms of violence against women.

However, conditions around the world, and in particular, in Philippine society, are far from achieving gender equality and ending misogyny.Especially in these times when forces promoting patriarchal and anti-poor policies return to power.

In the labor front, working women are far from enjoying job security as most of them are in the service industry, where all forms of contractual arrangements are prevalent. Women’s multiple burden is aggravated by ENDO as they toil in difficult conditions in work places and remain to carry the bigger part of house chores.

Women in the agriculture sector have been able to gain lands titled to their own names, but their struggle for land rights is far from over.The Department of Agrarian Reform budget was reduced by P241.9 million compared to the previous year. DAR estimates a balance of 621,085hectares for land acquisition and distribution. Meanwhile, land-owning and business interests continue to push back through land claim reversals.

Indigenous women’s strength and power are slowly being recognized in their communities and in society at large. However, they are forcibly weakened by lack of food security due to the exploitation of natural resources for profit, while the violence wrought by government and private security forces of mining, logging and plantation companies push them to silence.

The Reproductive Health law was passed in December 2012 but its implementation has been significantly hampered by the limitations of rights through the Supreme Court decisions and the weak RH services and budget support in the public health sector.

The RH programs and all other economic, social and cultural programs are also being threatened in the communities by the extra-judicial killings that affect residents as well as community organizers.

On top of all these social-economic struggles, the forces of sexism and misogynistic violence have been further unleashed and kindled, especially under the new government of Rodrigo Duterte. Mr. Duterte doesn’t hide how he belittles women not only through his openly sexist remarks, which he often excuses as mere ‘jokes’.

On Women’s Day eve, the House of Representatives passed the Death Penalty bill, which women vehemently opposed, as it solidifies a patriarchal criminal justice system. For decades, we worked with other sectors for its abolition as it does not address the root causes of criminality, and instead propagates the patriarchal culture of vindictiveness.

Under Duterte’s war on drugs, increasing number of women, including lesbian and transwomen, accused as being drug users without benefit of just trial have been executed by the police and vigilante killers.  None have been punished for these extrajudicial killings for the president would prefer to exterminate those he perceives as dregs of society rather than to create a society where the unemployed would find productive, secure employment; where the poor would have decent lives and livelihood so they wouldn’t have to resort to drug use and selling–a society that nurtures, empowers women and all its citizens, and where impunity and violence would have no place.

The Filipino women have persisted amidst all these challenges in the past. The Filipino women will not be cowed, not now, not ever. We shall always rise to the occasion to struggle and defend our victories; to further fight for and realize our rights. We shall not allow the forces of misogyny, of death, of all kinds of violence against women to overcome us.

On March 8, 2017 women from urban poor communities, from factories, from offices, from the rural areas, the peasant and indigenous women alike, and from schools shall come out to show to the these forces that we are persisting, we are resisting, we are reclaiming our spaces, our rights, our lives.

AlabKatipunan•AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM) • Amnesty International – Philippines •
BagongKamalayan • Batis AWARE • Buklod • Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) •
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific •Focus on the Global South •
Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) •In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement •
Freedom from Debt Coalition – Women’s Committee • KAISA-KA • KAMP
• Kilos Maralita • LIKHAAN •LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) •
PartidoLakasngMasa (PLM) • PartidoManggagawa • PAHRA • PiglasKababaihan •
PambansangKoalisyonngKababaihansaKanayunan (PKKK) • SALIGAN • SARILAYA • SENTRO • SPELL • Transform Asia • Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD Ateneo) • UNYPHIL-Women •
WomanHealthPhils. • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) •
Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE) •
World March of Women – Pilipinas • numerous courageous individuals

[From the web] The Philippines’ Alarming Death Penalty U-Turn -HRW

The Philippines’ Alarming Death Penalty U-Turn
Capital Punishment Bill Could Reach President Duterte’s Desk Soon
By Carlos H. Conde

The Philippine House of Representatives voted today to reinstate the death penalty for serious drug-related offenses in yet another blow to the country’s deteriorating human rights situation.

If the Philippine Senate approves a similar bill as expected and President Rodrigo Duterte then signs into law, it would be a major setback both for human rights in the Philippines and for the global campaign to abolish capital punishment.

In the past decade, the Philippines has been a regional leader in Southeast Asia in the campaign against capital punishment. In 2007 it ratified the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolishment of the death penalty – the first in the region to do so. Since then, it has supported several United Nations resolutions reaffirming a moratorium on capital punishment around the world. Now the Philippines will have the dubious distinction of becoming the first party to the protocol to restore the death penalty.

Reinstating the death penalty was one of Duterte’s major campaign promises and was the first bill proposed by the legislature after he took office in June 2016. In December, Duterte pledged to execute six criminals a day once the death penalty was reinstated. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Pantaleon Alvarez, has threatened legislators that they would lose positions in congressional committees if they didn’t vote to bring back capital punishment.

Coupled with the Duterte administration’s brutal “war on drugs” in which police and unidentified “vigilantes” have killed nearly 8,000 people since last July, the passage of this law would represent a double-whammy against human rights in the Philippines. Not only is capital punishment an inherently cruel punishment that is invariably imposed unfairly, but – contrary to what Duterte and others claim – it has not been shown to deter crime. Adding a veneer of legality to the bloodbath in the Philippines will make stopping it even harder.

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[Featured Site] Right to Life Facebook Page

right-to-life-fbRight to Life

The term “Right to Life” is based on the philosophy that every person has the right to live and that a human life should not be taken by another human being.

Why we don’t support the return of the Death Penalty in Philippines:

• Not an effective crime-deterrent:
“It’s the certainty of apprehension that’s been demonstrated consistently to be an effective deterrent, not the severity of the ensuing consequences,”
-Daniel Nagin (Professor at Carnegie Mellon University)

• Death Penalty is anti-poor:
Whilst it is easy for the rich to receive quality legal representation, the same cannot be said of the poor. In a country where case results are not decided by the jury, most of the time the law favours the rich.

• Flawed justice system:
Because the justice system is not perfect, wrong conviction is unavoidable.

“The death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights.”
-Amnesty International

FOLLOW Right to Life FB page @

https://web.facebook.com/RighttoLifePH/

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[From the web] Don’t Reinstate Death Penalty, Capital Punishment for Drug Crimes Violates International Law

Philippines: Don’t Reinstate Death Penalty
Capital Punishment for Drug Crimes Violates International Law

200px-Hrw_logo.svg(New York, December 3, 2016) – The Philippine House of Representatives should reject a proposal to reinstate the death penalty, Human Rights Watch said today. On November 29, 2016, the Judicial Reforms Subcommittee approved Congress House Bill No. 1 (Death Penalty Law), which would reinstate capital punishment for “heinous crimes,” including murder, piracy, and the trafficking and possession of illegal drugs. A house vote on the bill is likely before the end of 2016.

“The Philippine government should acknowledge the death penalty’s barbarity and reject any moves to reinstate it,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The failure of the death penalty as a crime deterrent is globally recognized and the government should maintain the prohibition on its use.”

In a joint letter drafted by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a network of nongovernmental organizations that focuses on issues related to drug production, trafficking, and use, the consortium urged all members of the Philippine House of Representatives and Senate to uphold the right to life enshrined in the 1987 Philippines Constitution. The Philippines is also party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR on the abolishment of the death penalty. The consortium also urged Philippine lawmakers to ensure proportionate sentencing of drug offenses to protect the vulnerable, and invest in harm reduction approaches to protect the health and wellbeing of Filipino people.

The Philippine government abolished the death penalty under article III, section 19 of the 1987 constitution. President Fidel Ramos reimposed the death penalty in 1993 as a “crime control” measure, but President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reinstated abolition in 2006.

The alleged deterrent effect of the death penalty has been repeatedly debunked, Human Rights Watch said. Most recently, on March 4, 2015, the United Nations assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, stated that there was “no evidence that the death penalty deters any crime.” Even with respect to murder, an Oxford University analysis concluded that capital punishment does not deter “murder to a marginally greater extent than does the threat and application of the supposedly lesser punishment of life imprisonment.”

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty.

Reinstating the death penalty would violate the Philippines’ international legal obligations. The Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR states that “no one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed” and that “each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.”

Where the death penalty is permitted, human rights law limits the death penalty to “the most serious crimes,” typically crimes resulting in death or serious bodily harm. In a March 2010 report, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime called for an end to the death penalty and specifically urged member countries to prohibit use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses, while urging countries to take an overall “human rights-based approach to drug and crime control.” In its 2014 annual report, the International Narcotics Control Board, the agency charged with monitoring compliance with UN drug control conventions, encouraged countries to abolish the death penalty for drug offenses. The UN Human Rights Committee and the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have concluded that the death penalty for drug offenses fails to meet the condition of “most serious crime.” In September 2015, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reaffirmed that “persons convicted of drug-related offences … should not be subject to the death penalty.”

“Reinstatement of the death penalty won’t solve any drug-related societal problems that Congress House Bill No. 1 seeks to address,” Kine said. “It will only add to the already horrific death toll that President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has inflicted on Filipinos since he took office on June 30.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/philippines

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/03/philippines-dont-reinstate-death-penalty

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[People] The Death Penalty is Being Implemented by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Death Penalty is Being Implemented.
18 August 2016
Fr. Shay Cullen

325-fr-shay-cullenSpeaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro want to bring back the death penalty in the Philippines as a deterrent to crime. It can be said that the death penalty is already effectively and practically in force daily. As many as ten suspects are killed daily in the war on illegal drugs.

Some are killed in what is said to be police shoot-outs. Others are the work of vigilante death squads. They bind the hands and feet of the victims, gag them with tape and shoot them and leave them in a public place with a crude sign saying, “I am a pusher” or a similar message.

Some of those killed are victims of mistaken identity; others are victims of criminals who kill and use the signboard to forestall any investigation. With the sign left on the body, it is presumed that the victim is a drug pusher. It is another case of a false accusation, a wrongful killing.

The suspects are lined up on lists prepared by the local barangay officials and given to the police. This denunciation of one’s neighbors by those elected to protect their rights is a contradiction. In the gated communities of the rich, the officials are not cooperating with the police demands for a list of suspects. Many end up dead and most of them are poor, small-time “suspected” drug users. The big drug lords have yet to fall.

This is very hard on some of the barangay officials of conscience. They feel the burden of guilt for having made a list of suspects and put their neighbor in harm’s way without any evidence or due process of law. The normal way to apprehend a suspect would be to investigate, get evidence of illegal drug possession then arrest the suspects and charge them in court by the prosecutor.

This is being bypassed at present. The daily death penalty is setting a culture of fear and death where impunity is the norm. There is nothing to prevent anybody from accusing their enemy to settle a score, to steal a wife or girlfriend or to get rid of a political or business rival by marking them for death by denouncing them to the police as drug dealers.
It is setting up a net work of informers, pitting neighbor against neighbor.

The legislators are determined to bring back the death penalty. As proposed in House Bill O1 by Speaker Alvarez and Rep. Castro the law will provide lethal injection as the method to carry out the death penalty by the government. It would be given to those convicted of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, plunder, treason, parricide, infanticide, rape, qualified piracy, bribery, kidnapping, illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, car theft, destructive arson, terrorism and drug-related cases. So it is death for almost any crime covered by this harsh and unnecessary law.

What is very clear in the Philippine judicial system is it will be the poor who cannot afford a lawyer who will likely get convicted. The rich and wealthy, if ever charged in court, will be able to have brilliant lawyers to get them acquitted. Studies show the death penalty is no deterrent at all.

It is only a deterrent for victims not to make a complaint against their relative for rape or child sex abuse. When the death penalty was active in the Philippines in past years, children repeatedly raped by their father were very reluctant to pursue a case in court. They feared they would be responsible for putting their own father to death and have to endure the scorn and rejection of her family.

The most plausible argument against the death penalty is the clear danger of a false accusation and a false and wrong conviction. The death penalty is final and if the convicted is found to have been innocent, there is no way to correct the mistake. There is no resurrection from the grave in this life.

In the United States, hundreds of men convicted wrongly and received the death penalty have been consequently proven innocent and released after many years on death row. The convictions were overturned by new DNA evidence that proved the convicted was in fact innocent.

The Philippine judicial system is not superior to that of the United States with all its faults and weaknesses. Nor can it rely on DNA forensic evidence to prove the innocence or guilt of a suspect. That is if ever he gets his day in court. Nowadays, it seems the court process is too cumbersome and the delivery of the daily death penalty is sufficient.

shaycullen@gmail.com

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[Statement] on the Restoration of the Death Penalty and the “Shoot-to-Kill” Policy -FLAG

Statement on the Restoration of the Death Penalty and the “Shoot-to-Kill” Policy
FLAG copy
The FREE LEGAL ASSISTANCE GROUP [FLAG] strongly opposes the incoming
government’s efforts to restore the death penalty and adopt and implement a “shoot-tokill”
policy. These actions are illegal and unconstitutional, render our legal system
impotent and meaningless, and blatantly violate international law.

The death penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy are anti-poor.

The death penalty is anti-poor. Seventy-three percent (73%) of the 1,121 inmates on
death row before the death penalty was abolished in 2006 earned less than ten thousand
pesos (Php10,000) a month. Eighty-one percent (81%), in addition, worked in lowincome
jobs as sales, service, factory, agricultural, transport or construction workers.1 If
these numbers are any indication, it is those who live in poverty who will suffer the
most if the death penalty is restored.

The poor also bore the brunt of wrongful death penalty convictions. In the landmark
case of People vs. Mateo,2 the Supreme Court revealed that seventy-one percent (71%) of
the death sentences handed down by the trial courts were wrongfully imposed. This
means that 7 out of 10 convicts on death row–-most of them poor–-were wrongfully
convicted and did not deserve to be there.

The poor are vulnerable to the death penalty because they have no voice, no money, no
power, and lack the resources to hire good lawyers. For exactly the same reasons, they
will also be vulnerable to the proposed “shoot-to-kill” policy of the President-elect.
The death penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy cheapen human life.

The death penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy—coupled with the President-elect’s
proposal to employ death by hanging “until the head is completely severed from the
body”3—reflect a callous disregard for human dignity not befitting a Chief Executive.
The Constitution, the Code of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees, and other
laws impose on all public servants the duty to observe, respect, and promote human
rights. Advocating state-sanctioned killings is not just anti-poor but anti-life.
The death penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy, moreover, will not deter crime–only the
certainty of being caught and punished can do that. What the country needs is a better
justice system–not a new one based on the barrel of a gun.

The restoration of the death penalty blatantly violates international law.

The Philippine Government signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 20 September 2006 and ratified it on 20
November 2007 without reservation. The Second Optional Protocol “is the only
international treaty of worldwide scope to prohibit executions and to provide for total
abolition of the death penalty.”4 States that ratify the Second Optional Protocol “are
required to renounce the use of the death penalty definitively.”5

President-elect Duterte is bound by the Second Optional Protocol. In the words of two
highly respected experts on the death penalty, Sir Roger Hood, Professor Emeritus of
Criminology, University of Oxford, and William Schabas, Professor of Human Rights
Law and International Criminal Law, Leiden University —

The Philippines would, if it reintroduced the death penalty, be the only
nation to have abolished it and reintroduced it twice, and the only nation to
reintroduce it having made a commitment to abolishing it by ratifying the
2nd Optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights.

As for the Second Optional Protocol, no State has ever attempted to
denounce the Second Optional Protocol. It would be unprecedented. I think it
would also be illegal. The Human Rights Committee has already made it clear
that denunciation of the Covenant itself is impossible. This was well-known
to the Philippines when it ratified the Second Optional Protocol. Article 6(1)
of the Second Optional Protocol states, ‘The provisions of the present Protocol
shall apply as additional provisions to the Covenant.’ Thus, when [the]
Philippines ratified the Protocol, it agreed that its provisions became part of
the Covenant. And it is impossible to denounce the Covenant, in whole or in
part. If [the] Philippines restores the death penalty, it will be in clear breach of
both the Covenant and the Protocol. This has already happened with Liberia,
which restored the death penalty after ratifying the Second Optional Protocol.
Liberia has had no executions since ratifying the Second Optional Protocol,
however. Given that article 1(2) of the Protocol says, ‘Each State Party shall
take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its
jurisdiction.’, merely enacting legislation for the death penalty, even if it is not
imposed, constitutes a breach of the Protocol and therefore of the Covenant.

If the Philippines reinstates capital punishment (after having ratified the
Second Optional Protocol), the country would be condemned for violating
international law. It would be a great stigma.

The shoot-to-kill policy disregards rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The 1987 Constitution categorically mandates that “[n]o person shall be deprived of
life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”6 The Constitution further
guarantees the right to be presumed innocent, to be heard, to counsel, to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him/her, to have a speedy, impartial,
and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to
secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his/her behalf.
These rights are brushed aside by the shoot-to-kill policy.

The shoot-to-kill policy gives unbridled discretion to law enforcement officers to take
the law into their own hands and act as judge, jury, and executioner. It contravenes
Article 11(1-3) of the Revised Penal Code which authorizes police officers to use deadly
force only when it is reasonably necessary. In the words of Justice Antonio Carpio of the
Supreme Court—

[…] a policeman is never justified in using unnecessary force or in treating the
offender with wanton violence, or in resorting to dangerous means when the
arrest could be affected otherwise.7
FLAG, therefore, calls upon the President-elect to abandon his plans to restore the death
penalty and impose a “shoot-to-kill” policy.

Quezon City, Philippines, 20 May 2016.

JOSE MANUEL I. DIOKNO
Chairman
FREE LEGAL ASSISTANCE GROUP [FLAG]
Care of Sanidad Law Offices, 2/f East Side Building, 77 Malakas Street,
Brgy Pinyahan, Diliman, Quezon City, Tel (632-475-7159); Email flag@flag.com.ph
———————————————-
1 See “Socio-economic Profile of Capital Offenders in the Philippines,” a study conducted by the Free
Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in 2004, published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
(PCIJ) and available at http://pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/flag-survey-death-row.pdf.
2 G.R. Nos. 147678-87, 07 July 2004.
3 Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 May 2016, p. A-6.Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 May 2016, p. A-6.
4 Article by Pierre Deset published on 27 June 2008, available at http://www.worldcoalition.org/Second-
Optional-Protocol-Frequently-Asked-Questions.html.
5 Id..
6 1987 PHIL. CONST., art. III, sec. 1.

 

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[Appeal] An open letter to President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte on Death Penalty -ICJ

ICJ_logo_2013

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT RODRIGO DUTERTE

Rodrigo R. Duterte
President-Elect of the Republic of the Philippines

31 May 2016

Dear President-elect Duterte,

We are writing to you today to express our concern regarding your recent statements in support of reinstating the death penalty.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is a global organization of judges and lawyers. For the past 60 years, it has devoted itself to promoting the understanding and observance of the rule of law and the legal protection of human rights throughout the world.

The ICJ considers the imposition of the death penalty to be a violation of the right to life and the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Reinstating the death penalty would contravene international commitments that the Philippines has voluntarily entered into. It would also place the Philippines at odds with the repeated calls by the UN General Assembly for all states “to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty” and for those States which have abolished the death penalty, “not to reintroduce it”.[1]

Scientific research has failed to establish any significant impact of the death penalty on the incidence of crime. On the other hand, research indicates that improving crime detection and investigation, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system, and addressing underlying causes, is far more likely to reduce serious crime.

Obligations of the Philippines under international law

The Philippines is currently an example of global best practice on the abolition of the death penalty. It abolished the death penalty in 2006 and is the only ASEAN Member State that has ratified the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Under Article 1 of the 2nd Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, the Philippines is obliged not to execute any person within its jurisdiction.

The 2nd Optional Protocol to the ICCPR contains no provision on renunciation, and States may not unilaterally withdraw from their obligations under the Protocol.[2] The resumption of executions in the Philippines would therefore constitute a violation of international law and represent an alarming disregard for the international human rights system.

No evidence that death penalty deters crime

Your statements suggest that the intention to reinstate the death penalty is largely driven by the desire to reduce the occurrence of crime in the Philippines. We emphasize, however, that empirical evidence does not prove that the death penalty deters crime.

For instance, there is no proof that the death penalty deters crime at a greater rate than alternative forms of punishment,[3] and the overwhelming majority of criminologists believe that the death penalty does not provide an effective deterrent.[4]

Research also indicates that increasing the chances of actually being caught and punished can be effective in deterring criminal conduct.[5] Individuals are less likely to commit crimes when there is a high probability of actually being subjected to criminal sanctions.[6] Thus, heightened enforcement efforts that are highly visible send a clearer message to potential criminals.[7] Indeed, multiple studies demonstrate that an increased likelihood of punishment is directly associated with a decrease in crime.[8]

Based on the scientific research, then, reinstituting the death penalty in the Philippines is unproven and unlikely to have any real impact on the incidence of serious crime in the country. On the other hand, 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.

We strongly urge that, in lieu of reinstating the death penalty, the Government of the Philippines should focus more on effective, evidence-based approaches to crime prevention. Policies and legislation that address the underlying social and economic causes of criminal activity are also vital to ensuring stability and the rule of law.

We note that there have already been initiatives in the past that, if given strong support and adequate resources, may be effective in deterring crime. For instance, the Philippine National Police has, in the past, established constructive law enforcement policies through initiatives such as the Community-Oriented Policing System, which emphasized comprehensive policing, data-driven solutions and community engagement.[9]

Reinstating capital punishment in the Philippines would constitute a huge setback not only for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country, but also for the Philippines internationally.

As mentioned above, the Philippines has in recent years shown how strong leadership and political will can be instrumental in abolishing the death penalty. The Philippines can today rightfully claim and be presented internationally and regionally as an example of global best practice in the abolition of the death penalty.

Needlessly reversing course and losing this leading role is unlikely to have any significant impact on reducing crime in the Philippines, but it will adversely affect the Philippines’ standing in the world.

We therefore hope that, under your presidency, the same strength of leadership can be applied in maintaining the current prohibition of the death penalty, and instead preventing crime in a manner that conforms to international human rights law and standards.

Very truly yours,

Sam Zarifi
Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific
International Commission of Jurists

For questions and clarifications, please contact Ms. Emerlynne Gil, Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, tel. no. +662 619 8477 or emerlynne.gil@icj.org

———————–
[1] E.g. UN General Assembly Resolution 69/186 (18 December 2014), articles 5(f) and 6.
[2] United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights: The Human Rights Committee, Fact Sheet No. 15 (Rev. 1), 10 (May 2005), http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet15rev.1en.pdf.
[3] See National Research Council, Deterrence and the Death Penalty 2-3 (D. S. Nagin & J. V. Pepper eds., 2012), https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/files/1529-nagin-full-reportpdf.
[4] Michael L. Radelet & Traci L. Lacock, Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates: The Views of Leading Criminologists’, 99 J. of L. and Criminology 489, 501(2009), http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7323&context=jclc.
[5] Valerie Wright, The Sentencing Project, Deterrence in Criminal Justice: Evaluating Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment 1 (2010), http://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Deterrence-in-Criminal-Justice.pdf.
[6] Id. at 4.
[7] Id. at 3-5.
[8] Id. at 4.
[9] Miguel Coronel, The Philippine Strategy and Best Practice for Crime Prevention: Community-Oriented Policing System, in Strategies and Best Practices in Crime Prevention in Particular Relation to Urban Areas and Youth at Risk: Proceedings of the Workshop Held at the 11th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice 80-85 (Margaret Shaw & Kathryn Travers eds., 2005), http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Strategies_and_Best_Practices_in_Crime_Prevention_urban_Areas_and_Youth_at_Risk_ANG.pdf.

[In the news] Lawyers’ group opposes death penalty, ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy -Rappler.com

Lawyers’ group opposes death penalty, ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy
Rappler.com, May 21, 2016

rappler_logoMANILA, Philippines – The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) expressed its alarm over the plans of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to restore the death penalty and give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders against organized criminals or those who violently resist arrest.

In a May 20 statement signed by FLAG chair Jose Manuel Diokno, the group said Duterte’s proposals are “illegal and unconstitutional”, would “render our legal system impotent and meaningless”, and would “blatantly violate international law.”

The death penalty was abolished in 1986 when President Corazon Aquino took over the reins of power from Ferdinand Marcos. It was reintroduced by President Fidel Ramos in 1993, then suspended again in 2006.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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[Press Release] Human rights group decries Duterte’s proposal for death by hanging and shoot-to-kill order to curb criminality -Balay

Human rights group decries Duterte’s proposal for death by hanging and shoot-to-kill order to curb criminality

balayThe Balay Rehabilitation Center has asked the tough-talking president-apparent Rodrigo Duterte to be mindful of what he says following his proposal to impose death by hanging as a penalty to curtail the rampant criminality in the country. The human rights group also raised grave concern that the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy of the former Davao Mayor is a threat to the right to life and can open the flood gates for abuse by law enforcers and trigger the disregard for the rule of law.

Duterte said he will ask Congress to restore the death penalty once he is sworn in formally as president o n June 30 along with a directive to law enforcers to shoot-to-kill criminals to instill fear to law breakers during a press conference in his temporary headquarters in Davao City.

The imposition of death penalty as a form of capital punishment for heinous crime is prohibited under the 1986 Constitution of the Philippines. The Ramos administration reimposed the execution of convicts as highest form of penalty by virtue of Republic Act No. 7659 in December 1993 to address the rising criminality and incidence of heinous crimes. After putting to death seven convicted criminals by lethal injection in 1999-2000, the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006, following stiff opposition from the Catholic Church, the religion of 80 percent of Filipinos.

According to Josephine Lascano, Balay’s Executive Director, what Duterte proposes is a very cruel act of punishment that contravenes the Philippine commitment to international human rights law and the Philippine Constitution which prohibits killing of convicts as capital punishment.

“Mayor Duterte’s tough-stance against criminality may strike a cord among the violence-weary citizens, but it may do his crusade good if he would instead discipline erring and corrupt law enforcers who are known to be conniving with unlawful syndicates and are involved in illegal activities themselves,” the Balay Executive Director said.

“Death penalty, especially by hanging, is a medieval torture technique that has long been rejected by the international community and is prohibited by the highest law of the land. Duterte’s proposal sounds like a backward step from the Philippine commitment to the Convention against Torture that will make his presumptive administration no better than the thugs and criminals that he wants to contain,” Lascano said.

Lascano pointed out that the imposition of death penalty has not been proven to deter criminals from breaking the law, adding that most countries in the world have already banned executions as a form of capital punishment. She cited a report of Amnesty International that says crime figures from countries which have banned the death penalty have not risen and, in some case, have actually gone down. In Canada, the murder rate in 2008 was less than half than in 1976 when the death penalty was abolished there.

She challenged Mayor Duterte to speak strongly against abusive persons in authority and their agents and remind them that he will sanction anyone who will commit acts of torture, extra-legal killing or enforced disappearance in their exercise of law enforcement function.

Before running for the presidency, Duterte has served as mayor of Davao City for more than two decades where he gained a reputation for allegedly encouraging the proliferation of the so called death squads responsible for the extra-legal killing of suspected criminals, including minors.

She noted that the poor are mostly driven to criminal activities due to lack of better economic opportunities. Killing offenders will only perpetuate a culture of violence in our land while the corrupt public officials and exploitative oligarchs get to play around the costly, sluggish, and elite-dominated justice system.

Balay Rehabilitation Center is a convener of the United against Torture Coalition – a network of human rights organizations that promotes torture prevention and advocates for the fulfillment of the mandate of authorities to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of individuals and groups.

Balay Rehabilitation Center
Press Release
May 16, 2016

 

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[Statement] Duterte Harry Has Been Dirty For a Long Time The new president of the Philippines has been bragging about murdering “criminals” for at least a decade. -HRW

Duterte Harry Has Been Dirty For a Long Time
The new president of the Philippines has been bragging about murdering “criminals” for at least a decade.
By Phelim Kine
Deputy Director, Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/17/duterte-harry-has-been-dirty-long-time

200px-Hrw_logo.svgIn May 2015, Rodrigo Duterte invited my colleagues and I for some rest and relaxation in Davao City, the metropolis in the south of the Philippines that he has overseen as mayor for almost 30 years. “To all the bleeding hearts of U.S.-based [Human Rights] Watch,” Duterte wrote in a statement. “You want a taste of justice, my style? Come to Davao City, Philippines, and do drugs in my city. I will execute you in public.”

That threat was in response to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticism of Duterte’s public support for the gangland-style killings as a form of crime control. A 2009 HRW report investigated the cases of some of the hundreds of people — including children as young as 14 — murdered by death squads in Davao City and other cities in the Philippines. Though there is no hard evidence of Duterte’s direct role in ordering the killings, we found proof that Davao City officials and police were directly involved. (And Duterte himself has never shied away from publicly applauding the targeted killing of what he calls “criminals.”)

Duterte’s response to HRW was no one-off, career-ending, slip-of-the-tongue. Rather it embodies the key elements of his political rhetoric, which lumps together crime and universal human rights (and their advocates) as twin toxic threats to Philippine society. The 71-year-old Duterte delivers that message in crude, hyper-aggressive language that’s as lurid as it’s unrepentant. “Forget the laws on human rights,” Duterte told a rapturous crowd of more than 300,000 people on the eve of the May 9 presidential elections, which Duterte won in a landslide, with an estimated nearly 40 percent of the vote. “If I make it to the presidential palace,” he said, “I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.” Duterte’s successful presidential campaign against four other candidates was built on espousing political positions that are as disturbing as they are unlawful. He has managed to convince a plurality of the Philippine electorate that he “will solve drugs, criminality, and corruption in three to six months” — by whatever means necessary.

For its report, HRW interviewed death squad insiders — relatives and friends of death squad members with direct knowledge of operations — as well as journalists, community activists, and government officials who provided detailed corroborating evidence of the death squad’s operations. Most of the triggermen were either former communist insurgents who surrendered to the government, or individuals who joined the death squads to avoid being targeted by the group. Their handlers, called amo (boss), were usually police officers or ex-police officers who provided the gunmen with training, weapons and ammunition, motorcycles, and information on the targets. (Death squad members often carried .45-caliber handguns, a weapon commonly used by the police but normally prohibitively expensive for gang members and common criminals.) After the killings, police stations were tipped off, ensuring that officers would respond slowly, and enabling the death-squad members to escape the crime scene.

Duterte has done little to distance himself from allegations of involvement in the death squads. In May 2015, he publicly admitted his active complicity: “Am I the death squad? True. That is true,” he said, only to retract his admission days later. Over the past few decades, he has made numerous statements attempting to justify killing suspected criminals. In 2001-2002, Duterte would announce the names of “criminals” on local television and radio; some of those he named would become victims of the death squads. Philippine authorities have yet to successfully prosecute anyone for any of these murders. Meanwhile, the killings continue, and copycat death-squad operations have emerged in other Philippine cities.

Duterte’s electoral victory will obligate him, after he takes office in June, to extend the human rights protections embodied in the constitution to all the people of the Philippines — even those he considers “criminals.” The departing Benigno Aquino administration failed to address impunity for the government’s rights violations. The combination of a lack of political will to investigate and prosecute abuses by state security forces; a corrupt and politicized criminal justice system; and a legacy of “patronage politics” — whereby wealthy individuals and private companies help finance political campaigns with the expectation of favors — has harmed the rights of many Filipinos. These problems now fall to the Duterte administration to tackle.

But Duterte’s statements both before and during the presidential election have raised grave concerns that his administration will result in a serious regression of human rights. In past speeches, Duterte has described his murderous tactics as a key plank of what he insists has been an effective governance strategy. “What I want to do is instill fear,” he told reporters in February 2009. “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.”

He extended that strategy to his presidential campaign platform on a near-biblical scale, promising the mass killings of tens of thousands of “criminals,” whose bodies he would dump in Manila Bay.

Hopefully, that pledge was mere electioneering bombast.

MAY 17, 2016

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[Press Release] Indonesia: grant Mary Jane Veloso permanent reprieve from execution and abolish death penalty – ICJ

Indonesia: grant Mary Jane Veloso permanent reprieve from execution and abolish death penalty – ICJ

Bangkok, Thailand / Geneva, Switzerland – In a letter sent this week, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) urged President Joko Widodo to grant Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino national on death row in Indonesia, a permanent reprieve from execution and to impose a moratorium on executions, with a view of abolishing death penalty in the near future.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

In its letter, the ICJ clarifies that executing Mary Jane Veloso for drug trafficking would violate Indonesia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and, in the circumstances of this case, appear to be inconsistent with Indonesia’s laws on trafficking in human beings.

Indonesia’s domestic law on criminalizing trafficking of persons provides that “a victim who commits a crime under coercion of by offender of the criminal act of trafficking in persons shall not be liable to criminal charges.”

The ICJ points out there are allegations that Mary Jane Veloso is a victim of trafficking, and that the crime she was convicted of resulted from such crimes against her.

“Rather than being identified and treated as victims of serious crimes, trafficked persons are often arrested, detained, charged and even prosecuted for being involved in criminal activities committed as a consequence of their situation of having been trafficked,” said Wilder Tayler, ICJ’s Secretary General.

Criminalization of victims of trafficking is directly connected to the fact that governments often fail to identify the victims correctly, the ICJ says.

“What is essential to combating trafficking is the timely identification of victims. The Indonesian government therefore must undertake prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation on the allegations that Mary Jane Veloso is a victim of trafficking,” Tayler added.

The ICJ notes that there is a growing recognition that victims of trafficking should not be prosecuted for offenses relating to their status as trafficking victims.

“Criminalizing victims like Mary Jane Veloso would compound the harm they have already experienced. It would also deny them the rights to which they are entitled,” Tayler said.

The ICJ urges Indonesia to impose a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing death penalty in the near future.

By resuming executions in 2013 after a four-year de facto moratorium, Indonesia is defying the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of a moratorium on execution.

Furthermore, imposing the death penalty for drug-related offenses contravenes Indonesia’s obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international standards, which clarify that states retaining the death penalty must ensure that its application is limited to “the most serious crimes”, the ICJ says.

The ICJ emphasizes that the imposition of the death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Background:

Mary Jane Veloso was allegedly unlawfully and fraudulently recruited in the Philippines to work as a domestic helper in Malaysia.

Upon her arrival in Malaysia, she allegedly was told by her ‘recruiter’ that she needed to go on an errand and meet the ‘recruiter’s’ friend in Indonesia.

It is alleged that the recruiter gave Mary Jane Veloso the luggage for her to pack her clothes in for her trip to Indonesia.

On 25 April 2010, Mary Jane Veloso was arrested upon her arrival at the airport in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for possessing 2.6 kilograms of heroin that were found in the seams of the luggage she carried.

Two of Mary Jane Veloso’s alleged traffickers are now in the custody of Philippine authorities and are set to face trial in the Philippines.

Contact:

Sam Zarifi, ICJ Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, t: +66 80 781 9002 ; e: sam.zarifi@icj.org

Indonesia: grant Mary Jane Veloso permanent reprieve from execution and abolish death penalty

FOR IMMEDIATE USE: 19 MAY 2015

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[From the web] ACSC/ APF2015: ASEAN governments urged to abolish death penalty -humanrightsinasean.info

ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People’s Forum 2015: ASEAN governments urged to abolish death penalty

Civil society organisations from ASEAN countries are urging the grouping’s governments to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view of completely abolishing the greatest violation of the right to life – state-sanctioned killing.

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The “Death Penalty In Southeast Asia: Towards A Regional Abolition” workshop, held in conjunction with the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/ APF) 2015 in Kuala Lumpur this week, saw anti-death penalty advocates in the region calling for a cease in using the death penalty. The workshop was jointly organised by FORUM-ASIA, Amnesty International Malaysia, KontraS, Think Centre, and Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN).

“At the ASEAN level, a strict application of the non-interference principle, which emphasises on the respect for state sovereignty, in the context of the death penalty is no longer relevant as the death penalty is an issue of all countries,” said Rafendi Djamin, the Representative of Indonesia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). He noted that a regional trend towards a moratorium had begun. Singapore had taken a step towards a moratorium and Malaysia had expressed intentions to consider it. He added that the AICHR would continue its thematic study of the right to life which will be accompanied by awareness-raising activities within ASEAN countries, including organising a workshop with the judiciary in ASEAN.

Within Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Viet Nam are retentionist countries that actively use the death penalty. Philippines and Cambodia abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2006 and 1989, respectively, while Brunei, Laos, and Myanmar have had de facto moratoriums on the death penalty for decades.

Read full article @humanrightsinasean.info

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[In the news] Mary Jane told of execution date: Tuesday, April 28 -RAPPLER

Mary Jane told of execution date: Tuesday, April 28
Jet Damazo-Santos, RAPPLER
April 25, 2015

(UPDATED) Mary Jane is told Saturday afternoon about her execution date, Tuesday, April 28, in the presence of Philippine embassy officials, just hours after a reunion with her family.

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Unless the last-minute legal efforts to save her work, or by some miracle clemency is granted, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso could be executed on Tuesday, April 28, along with 8 other convicts on death row.

Her sister, Marites, told Rappler she received a call after 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, from Mary Jane telling her the news.

The 30-year-old Filipina on death row in Indonesia said she had been informed of her execution date on Saturday afternoon, just hours after a reunion with her family, including her two sons.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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[Press Release] Indonesia: Stop Imminent Executions. Death Penalty for Drug Crimes Violates International Law -HRW

Indonesia: Stop Imminent Executions
Death Penalty for Drug Crimes Violates International Law

(Jakarta, April 25, 2015) – President Joko Widodo of Indonesia should urgently commute the death sentences of 10 people who face imminent execution for drug trafficking, Human Rights Watch said today. Following the exhaustion of legal appeals on April 24, 2015, Indonesian authorities advised foreign diplomats and the prisoners’ family members to convene on the island of Nusa Kambangan, where the executions are slated to occur.

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“President Widodo has an important opportunity to signal Indonesia’s rejection of the death penalty by sparing the lives of the 10 people facing looming execution,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Widodo can demonstrate true leadership by ending capital punishment as unacceptable state brutality.”

The 10 prisoners include one Indonesian and nine foreign nationals, from Brazil, Australia, France, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Philippines. The pending executions have provoked a diplomatic firestorm from foreign governments whose nationals are scheduled to face the firing squad. The Brazilian government has expressed concern that its citizen Rodrigo Gularte faces execution despite evidence that he has bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. In 2000 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights expressed its opposition to imposing the death penalty “on a person suffering from any form of mental disorder.” The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez, stated in December 2014 that imposing the death penalty on people with mental disabilities violated the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment.

Six other convicted drug traffickers were recently executed in Indonesia. Widodo has sought to justify the death penalty spree on the basis that drug traffickers on death row had “destroyed the future of the nation.” In December he told students that the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers was an “important shock therapy” for anyone who violates Indonesia’s drug laws.

According to the Attorney General’s Office statistics, 136 people were on death row in Indonesia at the end of 2014, of whom 64 have been convicted of drug trafficking, 2 for terrorism, and the rest for murder and robbery. Indonesia ended a four-year unofficial moratorium on the use of the death penalty on March 15, 2013, when it executed by firing squad Adami Wilson, a 48-year-old Malawian national. An Indonesian court had convicted Wilson in 2004 of smuggling one kilogram of heroin into Indonesia.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty. Indonesia’s use of the death penalty is inconsistent with international human rights law, statements of UN human rights experts, and various UN bodies. Human rights law upholds every human being’s “inherent right to life” and limits the death penalty to “the most serious crimes,” typically crimes resulting in death or serious bodily harm. Indonesia should join with the many countries already committed to the UN General Assembly’s December 18, 2007 resolution calling for a moratorium on executions and a move by UN member countries toward abolition of the death penalty, Human Rights Watch said.

In a March 2010 report, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime called for an end to the death penalty and specifically urged member countries to prohibit use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses while urging countries to take an overall “human rights-based approach to drug and crime control.” The UN Human Rights Committee and the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions have concluded that the death penalty for drug offenses fails to meet the condition of “most serious crime.”

“President Widodo should recognize that the death penalty is not a crime deterrent but an unjustifiable and barbaric punishment,” Kine said. “Widodo should promote Indonesia as a rights-respecting democracy by joining the countries that have abolished capital punishment.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Indonesia, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/indonesia

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[Campaign] Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso -Migrante

https://www.facebook.com/SaveMJVeloso

Background of the Case

Mary Jane comes from a poor family in Nueva Ecija. They resorted to picking plastics and other recyclable materials because the pay from Mary Jane’s father as a seasonal worker in Hacienda Luisita was never enough.  She is the youngest among 5 children. She only made it to first year high school, married early, and had two children.

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In the hopes of improving the lives of her family and providing education for her children, she went to Dubai in 2009 to work as household service worker. However, she returned to Manila before her two-year contract ended because her employer attempted to rape her.

On 19 April 2010, Mary Jane was approached by her friend Ma. Cristina Serio (a resident of Talavera, Nueva Ecija) and was told that her Malaysian friend needs a domestic worker.  She paid Cristina P20,000, a motorcycle and her cell phone to cover employment costs.  She was illegally recruited.

Five days after, they left for Malaysia.  She only packed two t-shirts and pants.  Upon arrival, Cristina informed Mary Jane that her prospective job was already closed but she re-assured her that she will get a job for her. Mary Jane stayed for another 3 days in Malaysia. Cristina brought her in many places in Malaysia, took photos, shopped for clothes and personal needs.

Airport Incident

On 26 of April, Cristina told Mary Jane to pack her things, and that she had to leave for Indonesia for work.  At first, she was hesitant since she did not have money for the ticket. Cristina told her that she did not have to worry.  She handed Mary Jane an empty suitcase, put her clothes in and gave her money.

Upon arrival at the Jogiakarta Airport in Indonesia, as she was about to pass through the x-ray machine, airport personnel detected suspicious items in her suitcase.  Her luggage was immediately checked, they took out all what was inside but found nothing.  Again, she put it in the machine which again detected something prompting airport personnel to destroy her luggage.  The 2.6 kilos of heroin valued at US$500,000 was neatly packed in the inner part of her baggage.

Know more @migranteinternational.org

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