Thursday, September 07, 2017

"Let Slip the Dogs of War"

We become inured so quickly to violence; acts that revolt us become everyday events. The unspeakable becomes the norm. It is happening in present day Philippines, as President Duterte has “let slip the dogs of war”, in his so called war on drugs, which gives no quarter, no excuse. Nor can he. Once the dogs of war are let slip, they cannot be reined in until the sheer weariness and glut of killings makes the authors themselves vulnerable to other forces of restraint.,

I have been following the macabre count of Duterte's killings, and listed details of the most horrific on these blog pages. But recently I had the experience of waking to front page news of killings which had taken place the night before in Quezon City where I was staying. The news told of a wave of killings in the very vicinity of the hotel I stayed in. Although I had heard nothing, another guest who was attending the same meeting as I, told me of hearing gunshots in the night, on streets I had walked a few hours before. The front page of my newspaper carried an appeal from the Vice-President of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, that people express outrage: “We are not like that. We have been disgraced by this culture of impunity a long time ago...it should not happen” she said. I respond to her call in this blog. Of course there was no sequel to the news, no investigation. Nor could there be; the dogs of war do not respond to outrage or protest.

In 1946 the world made an attempt to restrain the dogs of war, and spent two years composing a standard of justice and restraint, in response to the awful war which had engulfed the whole world from 1939 – 1945. In an epic human document “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” the fundamental principles of human behaviour were enunciated in plain and simple language which any human being with basic literacy could understand. “All human beings … should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. One of the shortest principles announces: Article 3 “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Our representatives who composed the short Declaration were well aware of the facile justifications which would be offered by the Dutertes of the world and countered: Article 11 “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence”

When the text of the Declaration was presented at a UN General Assembly, it was accepted by the overwhelming majority, and has become the living standard of civilisation. There were abstentions by a small number of states who protested that the Declaration should be obligatory on all nations, an impossibility then as now.

But we are in a world where ideals are no longer accepted. In Asia alone there are unaccountable slaughters of many to this day. One Asian country is even brandishing a weapon ten times more fearsome than that which obliterated Hiroshima, when the world glimplsed the outcome of unfettered war. Yes, Vice-President Leni Robredo, we accept your invitation to express outrage. But we must also strive to rid ourselves of those who themselves release and cannot control the “dogs of war”.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Poverty & Justice: A Deadly Mix

                                                                                                

While Thailand has not carried out judicial executions since 2009, all the consequences of poverty which accompany the death penalty are fully in force.

1. Unequal access to education and information In many criminal justice systems, the judge and/or jury may have explicit or implicit biases against people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, making those defendants more likely to face a guilty verdict and to be sentenced to death.

All over the world, justice systems are very complex and people facing the death penalty need expertise to assist in their defense.
en lack access to education and are often deprived of necessary and elementary social and financial support and legal knowledge to understand and participate fully in legal proceedings initiated against them in death penalty cases.


They are less likely to assert rights and benefits provided by the law, and they may not know how to get support.


2. Bail and pretrial release


A person from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background will be less likely to afford bail and obtain release before trial.


The defendant will therefore be less able to assist in preparing a defense.

3. Unequal access to justice

No justice system is completely free of charge. The expenses related to access to justice are a major obstacle for people living in poverty, as they simply can’t cover the costs.

These obstacles are amplified in capital cases, where each stage of the legal process involves an additional cost, such as hiring a lawyer competent to handle legal and evidentiary matters specific to capital proceedings. These accumulated expenses are one of the main reasons people living in poverty have trouble making use of the remedies available to them in the criminal justice system.

4. The importance of the effectiveness of the legal assistance

The legal representation for defendants from vulnerable backgrounds is often of lesser efficacy; appointed attorneys are often underpaid, lack adequate means to lead their own investigations, and lack the trial experience required for death penalty cases.
The inferior quality of legal representation places defendants living in poverty at a serious disadvantage, thereby increasing their likelihood of being sentenced to death.

5. Building a strong defense

Building a strong defense in a capital case can require a lot of financial resources.

People from a disadvantaged economic background do not have the means to pay experts or to obtain a more in-depth investigation of facts and evidence.

Such defendants may also not have the resources to effectively assess whether they are receiving adequate representation.

6. The specific case of foreign nationals

Some countries host foreign nationals to perform underpaid or menial work, such as housekeeping or hard physical labor.

Those migrant workers often take such jobs because they come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in their home countries.

If these people interact with the criminal justice system, they may face additional discrimination because of their status as foreign nationals, because they don’t speak the language and don’t have the network of people and social influences to support their cases, in addition to the barriers they face as persons living in poverty.

7. Biases and discrimination against people living in poverty

In many criminal justice systems, the judge and/or jury may have explicit or implicit biases against people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, making those defendants more likely to face a guilty verdict and to be sentenced to death.

8. Corruption

Corruption is endemic in many countries, including in the police force, the judicial system, and even judges themselves.

Those who have financial means or who have a strong social network may be able to access much more efficient justice and even ensure a favorable trial outcome.

Those who don’t have the financial means to pay for these justice-sector services - which are supposed to be free of charge - see their petitions and requests delayed, rejected, or dropped. Corruption is often coupled with dreadful prison conditions.

9. Death row living conditions

The conditions of detention may largely depend on the financial resources of the convicted person.

For example, people from poor socioeconomic backgrounds will have more difficulty accessing certain prison services such as medical care or food, and will not be able to receive financial assistance from family members to remedy the situation.Poverty can also limit the opportunities a death row prisoner has to stay in contact with family members and friends.

10. Impact on relatives

The economic and social consequences of a death sentence can be dramatic for people living in poverty.

Deprived of liberty, they are also deprived of income, employment, and social benefits. The family is also directly affected, especially if the convicted person was the family’s main breadwinner.

The financial burdens on family members throughout the legal proceedings can also lead to poverty.

For further information please view http://www.worldcoalition.org
 
 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Singapore again Executes: Mandatory execution a legal abomination

"A Malaysian drug trafficker was hanged by Singapore yesterday despite a plea for clemency from the United Nations and concerns expressed by rights groups over alleged flaws in his trial.
Prabagaran Srivijayan was arrested in 2012 after 22.24g of heroin was found in the car he was driving when it was stopped at a checkpoint going to Singapore.
He was sentenced to death two years later after being convicted of drug-trafficking. Trafficking certain volumes of illegal drugs into Singapore carries a mandatory death penalty unless certain conditions are met for the sentence to be commuted."

The opening sentence of this news item expresses two of three flagrant injustices in Singapore behavior. The first injustice is the refusal to accept UN norms regarding the death  penalty. Singapore still quibbles with the accepted interpretation of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to life".
Singapore has consistently maintained that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime and has rejected calls to abolish capital punishment.  In particular, the only possible justification for the death penalty is in response to deliberate homicide, not crimes relating to drugs. A mandatory death penalty is a legal abomination.

The second injustice relates to alleged flaws in the trial of the accused:
Amnesty International had raised concerns about the fairness of the trial, including the alleged failure of the authorities “to follow up leads and call on key witnesses that would corroborate his version of events”.
But following the execution, the narcotics bureau said Srivijayan was “accorded full due process under the law, and he was represented by legal counsel throughout the process”.
The veracity of the narcotics bureau is questioned by FIDH: "
"Singaporean authorities have never allowed Prabagaran’s attorneys, N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, who were hired by Prabagaran’s mother in January 2017, to visit him in Changi Prison. Authorities did not provide any reason for this denial. The denial of Prabagaran to meet with his legal representatives falls short of international fair trial standards. According to General Comment No. 32 concerning Article 14(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), “in cases involving capital punishment, it is axiomatic that the accused must be effectively assisted by a lawyer at all stages of the proceedings.”
 
A third injustice is to precede with execution while legal process was continuing:
"His lawyers contended that he still had an appeal pending in Malaysian courts, where lawyers had filed an application to compel the Malaysian government to take his case to the International Court of Justice amid concerns he did not get a fair trail." FIDH

Death Penalty Thailand has frequently submitted protests to executions. However, on this occasion, we were aware that nothing can deflect the microstate of Singapore from pursuing its bloody way, ignoring world opinion and counter argument. But this makes it all the more necessary to protest this unjust and pointless execution. There must be other ways to bring sanity to this blind system of injustice. A recent film "The Apprentice" gave voice to another form of protest; it represents the moral collapse of a Singapore hangman, the final link in an unjust and inhuman practice. I hope that we can all contribute to this chorus of disapproval.

 


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Thailand, death penalty prison statistics, April 2017


                                     Men:             373     drug cases  172    Other   201 
                                     Women:         74     drug cases    64    Other      10

                                     Total            447     drug cases  236   Other   211

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Drug 'reform' madness"

"The oft repeated quotation of the phrase attributed to Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, comes to mind immediately on reading the leading article of 10th May “Drug reform still pending”. It is my experience that those in the front line of the struggle against drug addiction in Thailand have long been aware of the road block in drug reform. I recall participating several years ago in a seminar held in the Bangkok ONCB office where realistic assessment of Thailand's drug problems were presented, an admission of past failures to control drug traffic in the Kingdom, and, finally, a clear and hopeful proposal of change which would be based in large on a policy of decriminalisation of drugs. Several foreign participants were present, and one of them came to ask me whether the message we had just heard implied a serious move on the part of Thai authorities. My answer was, no, it did not. The forces of insanity were not participants in the seminar, and would continue on their blind path.
There is no doubting the gravity of the problem.  72% of our critically overcrowded prisons are crammed with men and women condemned with utmost severity on drug related crimes, while a few token and showpiece drug treatment centres are half empty. The director of one such centre told me that he did not understand why so few drug cases were referred to him. At the same time in Geneva a government representative assured the Human Rights Committee, that Thailand had reform centres which were undertaking rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Unfortunately, Thailand is not alone in its drug problem insanity; the Philippines has become an arena of bloody murder in the streets in the name of drug suppression, and won support in the recent ASEAN meeting in Manila. Insanity thus becomes a regional norm.
Of course, the always asked question is, if not the path of suppression, what other path is there? Yes, there are other ways, and there are countries who are bravely taking the path of decriminalisation and rehabilitation, most notably the policy of Portugal, which introduced a new programme on drugs in the year 2000. The new law does not deny that drugs are dangerous, but admits that repression does not give better results and endangers people's health
The problem of drugs is one of the most serious human problems ever encountered in human history, and its solution cannot be quick or facile. Success is counted in complex statistics which monitor a stop in growth of the drug epidemic, and then a slow but certain turn around. The problem involves human perceptions and behaviour and one of the great successes of Portugal is in changing the perception of a whole nation to accept that the person addicted to drugs is a patient in need of treatment, rather than a criminal to be persecuted.
In 2003 when Thailand changed the method of execution to lethal injection rather than death by machine gun, a team from the Department of Corrections was sent to the US to learn the new technique of killing. Surely it is opportune to send a similar team to Portugal to learn the technique of restoring life to those trapped in the way of death."
Danthong Breen, Union for Civil Liberty

PostBag, Bangkok Post, 12 May 2017

Speech on Drug Policy Relevant to Whole World

United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, on May 5th, delivered a speech at drug policy convention at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank the organizers of the policy forum – FLAG anti-death penalty job power – for organizing this Forum and alluring me to take part in it – I’m each grateful and honored!
This is a crucial initiative – a well timed initiative – one which I help wholeheartedly.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimate that worldwide some 29 million individuals who use medicine endure from drug use problems whereas drug trafficking by trans-national prison cartels is a serious source of violence and insecurity the world over, affecting each society. Drug trafficking can be a serious source of corruption, undermining each the rule of regulation and good governance and eroding public belief.
Another, drug trafficking, drug abuse and their penalties represent main threats to the lives, well being, dignity and hopes of hundreds of thousands of individuals and their family members. In response, nearly a yr in the past to this very day, Heads of State and Government assembled at the United Nations Headquarters to think about a world plan of motion known as: Our joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside. I encourage you to seek the advice of it.
The doc is troublesome to summarize given its breadth however enable me to spotlight a couple of of its key features for you:
The particular session of the UN General Assembly drafted a complete strategy that takes into consideration a variety of human and different components that drive the drug downside together with social improvement, public well being, justice and human rights. It requires simpler approaches than the punishment/punitive mannequin that some governments have adopted.
It urges governments to uphold the inherent dignity of all people, to respect, defend and promote all human rights, elementary freedoms and the rule of regulation and in the improvement and implementation of drug insurance policies.
II
The joint Commitment additionally acknowledges that dependence is a posh well being dysfunction of a power and relapsing nature, whose social causes and penalties could be prevented and handled by, inter alia, efficient scientific evidence-based drug remedy, care and rehabilitation packages, together with community-based packages.
The world’s leaders acknowledged the essential function performed by civil society organizations and people entities concerned in drug-related remedy providers and dedicated to accentuate their function and cooperation with them.
They denounced repeatedly, drug-related corruption; decrying its function in the obstruction of justice, together with by intimidation of justice officers.
They promised to elaborate efficient scientific evidence-based prevention methods which are centered on and tailor-made to the wants of people, households and communities and so they dedicated to advertise proportionate national sentencing insurance policies, practices and tips too for drug-related offenses.
Throughout the joint dedication doc, governments affirm the significance of systematic information assortment, proof gathering, scientific analysis and the sharing of knowledge together with the alternate of greatest practices associated to stopping and countering drug-related crime.
What governments didn’t decide to final yr was “the war on drugs” strategy.
Quite to the opposite. They known as for what quantities to a balanced, multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary strategy, and so they positioned nice emphasis on well being, rights, and justice.
They didn’t recommend that death penalty was an applicable or efficient response to medicine trafficking, not to mention drug use; Instead, they spoke about proportionate sentencing and various punishments.
Their doc will not be good. The joint Commitment to Effectively Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem is criticized, by activists and quite a few politicians from round the world, for not contemplating extra explicitly the function of hurt discount methods, as an example, comparable to needle and syringe packages and prescription of substitute medicines.
But in April 2016, the basic meeting of the world’s authorities acknowledged explicitly that the “war on drugs” – be it group based mostly, national or world – doesn’t work. And additional, that many harms related to medicine are usually not attributable to medicine, however by the adverse impacts of badly thought out drug insurance policies.
The joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside is a name for motion, however to not any motion: based on the world’s leaders there are different methods, higher methods; evidenced-based, scientific methods, of combating drug abuse and trafficking – methods that don’t make issues worse.
Badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies not solely fail to deal with substantively drug dependency, drug-related criminality, and the drug commerce, they add extra issues, as has been properly documented, round the world, together with by United Nations our bodies and Special Rapporteurs.
They add, escalate and/or compound issues comparable to:
  • Killings, extra-judicial or by prison gangs; the break-down of the rule of regulation;
  • vigilante crimes,
  • Torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence;
  • Prolonged pre-trial detention, necessary sentencing and disproportionately lengthy sentences for drug possession, and many others.
  • Detention in drug and rehabilitation centres with out trial or a correct analysis of drug dependency;
  • Non-consensual experimental remedy;
And additional, badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies can foster a regime of impunity infecting the complete justice sector and reaching into complete societies, invigorating the rule of violence relatively than of regulation; eroding public belief in public establishments; breeding concern and main individuals to despair.
These are the findings from analysis undertaken round the world. Let me be clear. In none of the nations the place the perverse penalties of ill-thought out drug insurance policies have been reported, in none of those nations did the drug downside disappear. In truth, the reverse occurred.
III
And so we’re right here in the present day and tomorrow – to take inventory – to study from consultants right here and from overseas, those that have lengthy thought-about, studied and analyzed drug insurance policies, their influence and effectiveness. And we’re right here, collectively, to contribute ourselves to the implementation of the joint dedication by:
  • Providing proof and information to help evidence-based insurance policies and techniques;
  • Collaborating and cooperating throughout totally different nations and various areas of experience – highlighted as being so essential by governments final yr;
  • Listening to 1 one other, respectfully, politely however participating too in sturdy alternate;
  • Developing proposals with and for the Government of the Philippines, different stakeholders, and the individuals of the Philippines – proposals on drug insurance policies and responses which are efficient, and sustainable, bearing in mind the nation’s particular scenario, historical past and contect, in addition to its a number of property and alternatives.
To take par in these exchanges is really a privilege and I thanks for it.
IV
Let me finish by sharing a couple of extra private reflections.
Those of us who’re concerned in human rights works know solely too properly that we live in a world filled with intense disruption. Its signs and its foot print is there for all to see; obvious all over the place. Climate, individuals motion, globalized financial system and globalized crime…however it is usually the case that there’s too is a disruption of norms and values.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’advert Al Hussein, has typically lamented the caustic penalties of those disruptions: It will not be merely that human rights are abused – they continuously have been.
What is phenomenal is the indisputable fact that the very concept of human rights is being questioned and in lots of locations rejected. And that constitutes a marked alteration of the environment globally and domestically, probably the most vital human rights improvement since the institution of the trendy world and common human rights system at the finish of world conflict two.
The assaults we’re witnessing on common, indivisible rights; the undermining of equality, dignity, and accountability – share similarities wherever they happen:
  • There is an in depth software – even advocacy – of a doctrine of world conflict
  • A sure conception of safety, narrowly outlined and in opposition to real human safety, is taking maintain,
  • A blurring if distinctions between combatants and non-combatants; and an ever broadening understanding if the “enemy,” together with the enemy inside.
More crucially nonetheless this rejection of human rights is based on a rejection of our frequent humanity.
The rejects – those who do not slot in, are usually not welcome, are to be rejected, criminalized, punished could differ from nation to nation, group to group, chief to chief – however res assured they’re all human.
  • They could also be migrants or refugees
  • They could also be the poor or the very poor, the homeless.
  • They are avenue kids
  • Indigenous individuals;
  • Political opponents or critics;
  • They are the different…and
  • They could also be drug customers or drug pushers.
Any considered one of these and so many others who, are for one motive or one other, denied their humanity and their human standing – their rights – to justice, to freedom or motion, to safety from power, to freedom of expression. Denied as proper holders, as residents.
These profoundly disturbing developments are occurring at the fingers of authorities that ought to and might know higher. Their demonization – and the unaccountable, empowerment of authority that accompanies it – pushes open a door onto an abyss – a void into which humanity has thrown itself earlier than with terrible penalties – as a result of, after all, one can not deny the humanity if some individuals with out shedding humanity for all individuals.
V
And so we’re right here in the present day.
I’m immensely grateful for this invitation, for giving me the unbelievable alternative to spend a while with you.
Over the final eight months since I’ve been appointed UN Special Rapporteur I’ve watched from afar, however by no means from too far. I’ve adopted testimonies of the kinfolk of victims, I’ve seen the courageous work of civil society actors, legal professionals, human rights defenders, teachers, senators, I’ve heard debates between politicians, explanations by authorities officers, and certainly I’ve watched footage too of police and army males – and all saying there are different methods; higher methods; different choices, and higher choices.
This forum, with the dedication and the good will of all events, from the authorities to civil society, from the police to the well being sector – is a crucial benchmark to shine the mild of scrutiny, of truth discovering, of data, of proof – neutral and true – in order that we could search extra clearly our strategy to stopping, responding, supporting.
This mild of proof will assist establish and implement the very best drug/anti drug insurance policies, and interventions. That mild will lead – to proper upheld, fulfilled and loved for and by all.
An American vp Hubert Humphrey as soon as noticed “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life”.
People dwelling in life’s shadows are to not be deserted there.
We are to not be deserted there.
I’m deeply honored to have been concerned on this journey with you and deeply dedicated to proceed on that journey with you, starting with these two days convention.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

An answer to failure of Duterte, from his Vice-President

                                                                                     
Why not decriminalize drug use? VP urges gov’t to study Portugal move

Is decriminalizing drug use the better alternative to killing drug addicts?
Vice President Leni Robredo, who is banned by Duterte from his cabinet meetings, suggested on Friday that the Philippines look to the example of Portugal, which made the radical decision of decriminalizing drug use in 2001, leading to lower drug-related deaths and declines in drug abuse among its citizens.
Robredo was the guest at a forum in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños when she was challenged by a student to offer an alternative to the government’s deadly drug war, which has left thousands dead since last year.
She said the government should study the best practices by countries that found solutions to the drug menace, and cited Portugal as a “triumphant” example, according to a transcript of the exchange sent by her staff.
Robredo did not directly propose following the Portuguese government’s policy of decriminalizing drug use, but noted how the European nation dramatically shifted its focus from looking at drug abuse punitively to treating it as a health issue requiring treatment and reintegration.
She contrasted it with the failed drug campaigns by state forces in Latin America, most of which had focused on violent methods.
“If we only study the drug campaigns around the world, we will see that the countries that used violence in combating drugs never succeeded. Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico —these countries used force, they fought fire with fire. Many lives were lost but they were not successful,” she said in Filipino.
“Who were successful?” she asked the students.
“One of those is Portugal. What did Portugal do? Portugal found a system to combat drugs that was peaceful and orderly. They reformed their laws; they strengthened rehabilitation [of addicts]; they fixed their institutions responsible for rehabilitating. They were triumphant,” Robredo said.
Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs in 2001.
This did not mean possessing drugs for personal use became legal, but rather, it was considered an administrative violation punishable by fines or community service.
According to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Portugal registered lower drug use levels than the European average since the decriminalization policy took effect in 2001.
Drug use also declined among those aged 15-24, the population most at risk of initiating drug use, the UK-based group said in a 2015 report.
“Overall, this suggests that removing criminal penalties for personal drug possession did not cause an increase in levels of drug use,” the foundation said. It noted, however, that besides decriminalization, Portugal instituted corresponding social and health reforms that aided the new drug policy.
“This tallies with a significant body of evidence from around the world that shows the enforcement of criminal drug laws has, at best, a marginal impact in deterring people from using drugs,” it said.
In the UP forum, Robredo said it was important to learn from the experience of other countries facing drug problems.
“Why don’t we look at the best practices and try them, because we have enough lessons in the past from other countries to determine what works and what doesn’t,” she said.
She said she wished to pursue community rehabilitation for drug dependents.
“Many of those who surrendered were not really drug dependents but occasional drug users. Why don’t we create a program for them?” she said.
Robredo noted how congested Philippine jails were, with more than half of the inmate population incarcerated for drug-related offenses.

Philippine Enquirer, 23rd April 2017

Robredo was elected Vice President independently of President Duterte and differs from him on most issues.
 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

They shot him. Just like that.

 
                                                                     
                                                  Raymart, son of Luzviminda

Luzyiminda Siapo dreamt of giving her children a better life when she left for Kuwait two years ago. But last week news from home, the kind nightmares are made of, sent the domestic running back.
On March 29th, a group of men in ski masks abducted and killed her 19-year old son Raymart a day after a neighbour tagged him as a marijuana peddler in Barangay NBBS, Navotas City.

“All it took was a false accusation for these people to murder my son,” Siapo, a single parent, said in an interview earlier this week. They did not bother to investigate, they did not bother to verify. “They just killed him”. The night before the murder, Raymart and a neighbour had a heated argument that ended with the latter going to the barangay hall to accuse Raymart of many things, like selling marijuana. The neighbour, ideentified only as Pejie, said his piece before desk officer Christopher Cariquitan who had everything recorded in his logbook.

The following night, aarmed men on motorbikes came looking for the teenager. An uncle who served as Raymart's guardian said over 14 men arrived and five of them entered their target's house. They couldn't find Raymart but later located him at a friend's house nearby.

Last cries for help
Forced to ride with the group, Raymart was last heard crying for help from anyone he saw on the street. They went around the barangay until they reached the area known as Bangkulasi.
The gunmen reportedly asked Raymart to get off the motorcycle and run. He wouldn't, and couldn't for Raymart was born with bilateral club foot (both feet were deformed).

“When my son refused, they asked him to sit down instead. Then, they shot him. Just like that, Stapo said.

Aie Balagtas See: Philippine Daily Enquirer, April 9

Comment by M. Ceres P. Doyo in Phillipine Enquirer, 4/13/2017

                                                        There s no name for her pain

Monday, April 03, 2017

"All the world's a stage"

                                                                                      
MANILA - A Philippine youth theatre club staged a musical at a Manila park on Sunday, challenging President Duterte's bloody war on drugs. The count of those gunned down is over 8,000.
"The 20-minute show features a casket salesman whose funeral parlour is doing brisk business as corpses pile up.
But the salesman and his friends end up as statistics, falling to vigilante-style killings that have gripped the Southeast Asian nation and alarmed the international community."

See original photo of the slaying below in "There is nothing more to say"

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Philippines: Latest killing

 
                                                                                                    
                                                         Is this a human being?

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The trauma of being an executioner

 
                                                                                     
An article in the “Guardian” newspaper, carries the heading, “The psychological impact on execution teams is one of the least discussed aspects of capital punishment in the US, yet arguably one of the most disturbing” : to introduce the article, “Eight executions in 11 days: Arkansas order may endanger staff's mental health” , The Guardian, 30th March, 2017. The article begins by relating the experience of a Dr. Alan Ault who as commissioner of the department of corrections in Georgia,gave the order for five executions by electric chair in 1994 and 1995. After the fifth life was taken, the cumulative distress reached breaking point and he resigned from the post.

Next month, the state’s Republican governor of Georgia has scheduled no fewer than eight executions over 11 days: “On Wednesday, 23 former corrections officials from 16 different states sent a joint letter to Hutchinson urging him to reconsider. They warned, several on the basis of personal experience, that participating in executions can exact a “severe toll on corrections officers’ wellbeing” and that by doing so many so quickly, Arkansas was “needlessly exacerbating the strain and stress placed on these officers”. The article goes on to report senseless exchanges on the issue, such as a justification that scheduling the executions over a short time would reduce the stress for the team of executioners. How convenient! I am reminded of a state in India where executions had not been carried out for several years. Suddenly, a judge sent an order of execution to the prison ordering a resumption of executions. The prison staff responded with the terse response that if he wished a resumption of executions he could come and carry them out himself!

It is true that in the debate on the death penalty and its abolition, little attention is paid to the trauma of those who carry out the execution on our behalf. However, in Thailand, this aspect of capital punishment has been treated with immense insight and sympathy by Tom Waller in his film “The Last Executioner” where the conflict in the mind and heart of Thailand's last executioner, Chavoret Jaruboon is treated, using all the arts of the powerful medium of film. Chavoret, in his day, executed 55 prisoners, including one woman. He wrote an artless account of his life and the trade which shaped it, as it did the lives of his family. One cannot add, and his friends or acquaintances, for he was a lonely and possessed man. Perhaps only his superior officers understood something of the effects of being an executioner to their command. The writer of this blog met Chavoret, and felt his longing for approval and acceptance. The film of Tom Waller is often surreal, as the world of karma and guilt intrude into a the banality of a very ordinary life. But its art is great, and offers a profound reflection on the act of judicial killing.

Significantly, the moment of crisis in the film, which strains the self justification of Chavoret, and disrupts his family harmony, is his botched execution of a condemned woman. But that will be a story for another day.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Example for All Nations to Inform Their Citizens

 


                                          
                                          Click on Image above to read statement

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Counter attack of Duterte against Senator Leila de Lima, opponent of his drug killings

 The Philippine War on Drugs by President Duterte's campaign of extrajudicial killings has taken a bizarre turn with an accusation against his foremost critic that she herself presided over an illegal drug trade. (See posting below on "Women take a lead in opposing Duterte killings") 
                                                                       
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed criminal charges against Sen. Leila de Lima on Friday over allegations she presided over the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary when she was the justice secretary. De Lima said she had expected the move and scored the Duterte administration for its “vindictive politics.” She said she was bracing herself for becoming “the first political prisoner” under the regime of her archenemy.

“As expected, the DOJ today filed criminal charges against me with the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa,” De Lima said in a statement. “My lawyers are already on top of the situation and will be filing the corresponding motions as soon as the cases are raffled to a specific branch.” De Lima said the DOJ resolution finding probable cause against her was a “travesty of truth and justice".

"Philippine Daily Enquirer, 18/2/2017"

Saturday, February 11, 2017

There is no "humane execution"

     Under threat of restoration of the death penalty in the Philippines a consideration of the horror of  executions is again being raised. In Thailand we have not even reached the stage of option, but it provides us with opportunity to reflect on our practice. The following paragraphs are an introduction to a recent article in "Philippine Enquirer". Lethal injection is the supposed humane choice of method of execution in Thailand. So far six persons have been so executed.

"According to a 2002 article in the Journal of Forensic Science, it takes an average of 8.4 minutes for a lethal injection protocol to achieve the desired end. The most common one involves the insertion of intravenous lines and the administration three drugs. These are sodium thiopental, which depresses the central nervous system in 30 seconds, introducing a degree of unconsciousness that makes pain undetectable; pancuronium bromide, a relaxant which takes 30-45 seconds to induce paralysis and respiratory arrest; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart in around 30 seconds. Given procedural delays, errors in IV line insertion, and delays in pronouncing death, the whole process takes around 10 minutes.
 It all sounds simple and painless, but these quick facts are only the tip of an iceberg of debates - decades long arguments on the effectivity and ultimate humaneness of the protocol. There are horror stories of failed IV line insertions with incorrect administration of thiopental, of autopsies revealing inadequate blood levels of one or more of the said drugs, of convicts struggling to get up long after the injections. Some have noted that the first drug may wear off quickly, which may lead to an agonizing death with inmates unable to express pain because they have been rendered paralyzed. It is easy to suppose that lethal injection, as we know it, creates the appearance of a painless quiet death more than actually giving it. hence the controversy surrounding the protocols of  lethal injection in the United States."

Kay Riveria, "Cruel and unusual", Philippine Daily Enquirer, 10 Feb 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

End Days of Philippine Justice

This website has been reporting news from the Philippines relating to the threat that the death penalty will be restored and the present wave of extrajudicial killings, supposedly a substitute for judicial executions. Perhaps we need go no further than presenting the editorial in today's (28th January 2017) of  the Philippine Daily Enquirer:
                                                     
The scenario for the Philippines painted in the last presidential election by the then mayor of Davao was stark: Without him at the helm, and short of the iron methods he claimed had successfully rid his city of street vermin and crime, the country risked becoming a narcostate. He said that drug syndicates, in cahoots with oligarchs, were on the verge of taking over, and that his candidacy, promising change of radical proportions, was the “last ace” to turn things around. Seven months later, the contours of that promised war on drugs and crime have become all too familiar and disturbing: over 7,000 deaths due to extrajudicial killings; respect for due process and human rights much diminished; a raft of complaints over the Philippine National Police’s (PNP)  signature antidrug campaign, “Oplan Tokhang,” being used to harass ordinary citizens; and a police force, or at least a significant portion of it, that appears to have essentially gone into the same criminal racket it is sworn to stamp out.
The news about the kidnapping for ransom of a Korean businessman from his home in Angeles City and his killing right inside Camp Crame, the very headquarters of the PNP—and under the guise of the government’s campaign against drugs, Jee Ick-joo having been seized as part of a supposed drug raid on his home—reaffirmed a basic truth that the public has come to know: The police force is rotten.
But even that accepted reality still reels at the heinousness of this crime. The raiding team led by SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel is also accused of, among other things, stealing P450,000 from Jee’s home; receiving P5 million in ransom from the Korean’s wife, then demanding P4.5 million more from her, even as her husband was killed on the same day; and flushing Jee’s cremated remains down the toilet. And on top of all that, the strangling of Jee inside his car while it was parked on Camp Crame grounds, literally just walking distance from the office and official residence of the country’s top cop, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
Was this an isolated case, or merely one botched job by a much bigger syndicate in the PNP? As Inquirer columnist Randy David put it, “No single police officer, no matter how brazen, can pull off a heinous crime like this without the collusion of other officers. But, more to the point, a crime of this nature can only be the byproduct of a climate of impunity and public timidity that—in the name of the so-called war on drugs—has normalized abduction and the raiding of homes, and has made killing an everyday thing.”

True enough, at the Senate hearing that began on Thursday to look into the Korean’s abduction and killing, Sta. Isabel apparently decided he shouldn’t get all the blame, and began pointing to several higher PNP officers as the masterminds of the “tokhangfor-ransom” scheme. His wife also presented to the media CCTV clips and audio recordings purporting to show that he was merely following orders.
The reaction of Dela Rosa to these revelations is, to say the least, curious: He lashed out at the media for having given Sta. Isabel’s wife airtime, and is insisting this early that claims of involvement by other police officers are only meant to make the entire PNP look bad.
To Dela Rosa’s seeming tendency to circle the wagons around the PNP, Sen. Panfilo Lacson had a potent riposte via a chilling video that was played at the Senate. The clip showed cops charging into an office on the pretext of a drug raid, then, after the employees were out of the room, surreptitiously planting drugs inside table drawers and taking some of the employees’ belongings. According to Lacson, the cops also demanded P2 million from the office owner.
The presentation of the video at the Senate hearing was meant “to [put] it on record that [Jee’s case] was not isolated and many similar cases are happening,” said Lacson.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Reflection on the Actual Death Penalty Worldwide

At two year intervals, the United Nations General Assembly, the most representative gathering of all the nations of the world, holds a recount of intention regarding the death penalty.  The choice proposed is simple and stark, to support or oppose a world suspension of the death penalty. Below is a brief summary of the results of the vote in December 2016.

(Thailand abstained from voting)
                                                                                
The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a 6th resolution calling for a universal moratorium on executions
Article by Elise Guillot et Aurélie Plaçais published on December 20th, 2016
On 19 December 2016, with 117 States voting in favour of the resolution, the UN member states reasserted their support for a universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty.                 

Confirming the vote of the UNGA’s Third Committee on 17 November, the resolution A/RES/71/187 was adopted by a large majority, with news States voting in favour of it. 117 voted for the resolution, 40 against (+ 2 compared to 2014) while 31 abstained (- 3) and 5 were absent. 89 States cosponsored the resolution.

The adoption of this resolution confirms and supports the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty.

 Following recent abolitions in law, Guinea and Nauru voted in favour of the resolution and Guinea co-sponsored it for the first time. Mongolia was one of the two lead co-sponsors and Fiji and Suriname confirmed their positive votes for the second time in a row.

Recent evolutions in abolitionist in practice countries also lead to a positive change of vote in Malawi and Swaziland which voted, for the first time, in favour of the resolution. Zimbabwe moved from opposition to abstention and Sri Lanka from abstention to a vote in favour, confirming its commitments taken during the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty in June 2016. DRC which had taken a similar commitment during the World Congress was unfortunately absent from the vote.

National debates and political crises were also reflected in some of the negative changes. Burundi and South Sudan moved from yes to no while Niger, Equatorial Guinea and Seychelles moved from a positive vote to abstention. The Philippines moved from a positive vote to abstention while the Maldives regrettably moved from abstention to a negative vote. 

A smaller but very active group of hard core retentionist countries

While the number of countries opposed to the resolution went down from 54 in 2007 to 37 in 2014 and 40 in 2016, and the number of countries signing the statement of dissociation from 58 in 2008 to 27 in 2015, a small group of countries, led by Singapore have been really active in 2016. For the first time, they managed to have an amendment to the text on state sovereignty, introduced by Singapore, adopted on the edge by 76 States, while 72 voted against during the 3rd Committee. It is very interesting to note, however, that the amendment had no repercussion whatsoever on the vote.

The resolution unequivocally frames the death penalty as a human rights issue, calling on States to “establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty”. As Singapore said during the debate,  “the focus (…) had, over the years, shifted from being a moratorium to a push for abolishing the practice”. The text also calls upon States to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

The 2016 resolution has also introduced new elements to make the text stronger in encouraging all States to take further steps towards respecting international law and reducing the application of the death penalty. Paragraph 6(f) thus calls upon States to “ensure that those facing the death penalty can exercise their right to apply for pardon or commutation of their death sentence” along fair and transparent procedures. To increase the transparency, the UNGA also called upon the States to disaggregate the information on the use of the death penalty by sex, age and race (Paragraph 6(c)).

Restoration of Death Penalty in Philippines?

 Debates on death penalty begin next week

Proponents and opponents of the bill restoring the death penalty are poised to begin their showdown on the House plenary floor next week.
“We expect that the fireworks on this revival of capital punishment will commence on Tuesday or Wednesday next week,” said Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, leader of the “Magnificent 7” independent minority bloc.
He said he was told by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of the change in schedule. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier announced the plenary debates would begin this week.
At a press briefing, Lagman reiterated his call on the House leadership “not to insist on a party or a pressure vote.”
No justification
“House members should be allowed to freely exercise their conscience and conviction in voting on the measure,” he said.
Lagman said he wished to dispel the impression that the 1987 Constitution prescribed the death penalty. “On the contrary, it prohibits it,” he said.
“As of now the proponents have failed to make any justification on the death penalty. They are citing that incidents of crime have risen in recent years. That is incorrect. PNP (Philippine National Police) data show there is a decreasing incidence, except for murder,” he said.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Protest to Philippine Parliament on Restoration of Death Penalty

ADPAN strongly urges all members of the Philippine House of Representative and Senate to reject the reinstatement of the death penalty and uphold the rights to life as enshrined in the Constitution.

 Reinstating the death penalty would violate Philippine’s international legal obligations, in particular, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the country has ratified.

 The reasons behind the reinstatement of the death penalty are ill founded and purely a political one. Numerous studies and analysis have concluded that death penalty does not deter crime. Indeed, there has been no existing reliable evidence to prove otherwise.

 ADPAN also wishes to highlight that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has consistently called for the abolishment of death penalty on drug related offences, citing that such irreversible and oppressive laws are not an effective prevention and solution and it is not supported by international drug conventions.

 It is also to be noted that on 11th January 2017, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Mr Wisanu Krea-ngarm had said that Thailand would eventually do away with death penalty by trying to amend the law to find alternative to the capital punishment, taking into consideration the global trend on abolition.

 The Malaysian government has also announced its intention to abolish the mandatory death penalty on drug offences while a comprehensive study is now underway that may also see the total abolition of the death penalty.

 Philippine, if successfully revive the death penalty, would not only move backward in its human rights standards and obligations, and would also not be in line with the progress made by its neighboring countries towards the eventual abolition of death penalty.

 ADPAN states its disappointment that this Bill to reinstate the death penalty is being rushed on 16 January 2017 when the House of Representative resumes, and urges all members of the House of Representative and Senate to consider it carefully and reject it, respecting and upholding the right to life.

 Ngeow Chow Ying

For and on behalf of the ADPAN Executive Committee

15 January 2017

Email: contactadpan@gmail.com

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is an independent cross-regional network committed to working for an end to the death penalty across the Asia Pacific region. ADPAN is made up of NGOs, organizations, civil society groups, lawyers and individual members, not linked to any political party, religion or government and campaigns against the death penalty. It currently has members in 28 countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, UK, USA.

Survey on Capital Punishment in Thailand

A large majority of people say the death penalty should continue to exist, and that rape followed by murder of the victim is the crime that deserves it the most, according to a survey by the National Institute for Development Administration (NIDA). The NIDA poll was carried out from January 9 to January 11 among 1,250 respondents who were aged 18 and over, from various levels of education and occupation throughout the country on whether the death penalty should be reviewed.
Asked whether the death penalty should stay, a huge majority, 87.1% said it should, only 8% said it should no longer be in force; and 4.8% were uncertain. Asked what type of crime they think most deserves the death penalty, 56.5% pointed to rape and murder; 22% mentioned repetition of serious crimes; 10.6 picked premeditated murder; 3.1% chose drug offenses; 2.48% opted for robbery and murder; 1.4% picked physical assault resulting in death; 1.1% went for corruption; 1.47% chose other crimes, such as terrorism, while 1.1% were uncertain.
Asked whether the death penalty should be executed without being commuted, 86.3% said “yes”; 11.2% picked “no”, saying that wrongdoers should be given a chance to make amends as they could have committed crimes unintentionally; and 2.48% were uncertain.
Those who picked not commuting the death sentence said Thailand’s law enforcement was not strict and leniency would only invite repetition of crimes.
Bangkok Post reporters; 16/1/2017
 
 
 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

There is nothing more to say

The story behind the viral photo


/ 12:02 AM July 31, 2016
Talk-pieta1
PHOTOS BY RAFFY LERMA
It was the third extrajudicial killing of suspected drug pushers that I covered on the graveyard shift last week.
Around 1:30 a.m. on July 23, upon arriving on Edsa Taft-Pasay Rotunda from another crime scene, I could already see the picture.
I knew this was different. In the middle of the police line in which photographers and bystanders are not allowed to cross was the lifeless body of suspected drug pusher Michael Siaron, cradled by partner Jennilyn Olayres. A cardboard sign that read “Drug pusher huwag tularan” (I am a drug pusher, don’t emulate) was left near the body.
 
An hour had passed after the shooting, according to witnesses. A gunman on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice fired on Siaron and left the cardboard sign beside him. Another person was wounded.
TV floodlights and news cameras popped and flashed as Olayres wept for Siaron while cradling him in her arms like Michelangelo’s world-famous sculpture “Pieta,” a depiction of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ.
I took many shots from a distance supported by the light from cameras illuminating Siaron and Olayres, which appeared very much like lighting from a theater stage. Hearing her pleading for help was gut-wrenching. I could do nothing but take more shots.
Talk-pieta2I saw no need to use a flash, as I needed to capture the dark-at-dawn atmosphere.
“That’s enough! And help us!” she cried out to media workers, authorities and onlookers.
I stopped taking pictures and looked for a policeman. I asked him, “What are you waiting for?”
The policeman replied: “We can’t do anything as he is already dead. Let’s wait for the Soco (Scene of the Crime Operatives).”
Talk-pieta3
The members of the Soco team came several minutes late because they came from the same crime scene we covered earlier outside the Senate Building in Pasay City.
What could I do? It was heartbreaking but I knew I had to do my job. The crime scene still had to be processed. Evidence had to be gathered.
I climbed the overpass and took more shots: an overview of the scene with cars passing along Edsa, with a few motorists stopping and looking at the commotion, a crowd gathering around the body and Olayres laying Siaron down on the pavement and weeping.
Talk-pieta4
Another report came—a body was found in Leveriza, Pasay City, the fourth on that shift. Many of my colleagues and I hurried off but we all had a heavy heart.
We were not able to take pictures of the male victim—the fourth in “Patay City” (a play on Pasay City, meaning city of the dead), as a radio reporter jokingly said—as the body had been removed from the crime scene. The victim, a mute, was shot and killed by a motorcycle-riding gunman, who also left a cardboard message near his body.
We were quiet as we went back to the Manila Police District, the office of graveyard-shift media workers. I lighted a cigarette to calm my nerves. Another photographer took deep breaths. Together, we recounted moments from the scene at Pasay Rotunda.
Talk-pieta5
Another veteran photographer said, while shaking his head, “I no longer want to be a photographer.” We all had the same feeling of guilt.
We were unsure whether to submit the pictures for publication because we felt guilty for not being able to help the victim and his partner. We only took photographs.
I remember shaking my head, wiping off my sweat and processing what had just transpired in my head.
I told my colleagues: “Let’s file this. It’s our work.”
We may not have helped the victim and his partner but it is our job to show these pictures. We have to show reality as it is and perhaps, get people to react and even take action.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/96101/the-story-behind-the-viral-photo#ixzz4VhtLvTxl
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