Friday, December 30, 2016

The Pain of the Poor: Duterte, stop this slaughter.

                                                  Too poor to live, too poor to be buried

Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines continue without truce. The following account painfully recounts a campaign to eliminate drugs which has lost all reason. The poor and the innocent die, the rich escape. 
Gunmen hunting drug suspect kill 7
3 teenagers, pregnant woman among fatalities as main target escapes
Gunmen opened fire on two shanties in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, on Wednesday night while hunting down a drug suspect. Their target escaped, but seven people, including three teenage boys and a pregnant woman, were killed in the shooting. The victims were neither drug users nor criminals, their mothers said. Their only fault was that they were friends of the drug suspect. Seven people, including three teenagers and a pregnant woman, were shot dead on Wednesday night by armed masked men looking for a drug suspect in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

“These boys are innocent. They killed our boys,” the mothers of Jonel Segovia, 15; Sonny Espinosa, 16; and Angelito Soriano, 16; told the Inquirer.

According to the police, the gunmen’s real target was Jay-R Santor, a drug suspect who earlier surrendered to authorities under the government’s “Oplan Tokhang.”
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, the masked men who were on motorcycles did not know where to find him so they fired into the two adjacent shanties in Phase 8, Barangay 176 owned by Santor’s parents.
The teenagers, along with their friends, Kenneth Lim, 20; and Edward Villanueva, 18; were in one of the shanties where a dance party was in full blast. Lim was also killed while Villanueva was wounded and taken to a hospital for treatment.
In the other shanty, three of Santor’s relatives—his mother Cristina, 45; brother Ednel, 22; and sister Analyn, 28, who was pregnant—died. Santor, meanwhile, reportedly escaped by diving into the creek behind their house.
“My son just turned 16 and they killed him like a chicken, as if he were an animal,” said Espinosa’s mother, Maria Isabelita.
When interviewed by the Inquirer, she, along with relatives of the other victims, were standing outside Crystal Funeral Parlor where they were begging authorities to release their kin’s bodies so that they could go to another establishment with cheaper rates.
According to the teenagers’ mothers, none of their children were drug users or had criminal records. Their only fault was being friends with Santor, they added, angry at claims that the boys were involved in the drug trade.
Espinosa turned 16 last month while Soriano turned 16 in September. Segovia, on the other hand, just turned 15.

Abby, Soriano’s sister, said
“But my brother does not use drugs. He does not even smoke cigarettes because one time, we caught him smoking cigarettes and we beat him up. So he stopped. Now they telling us he’s using drugs?” Abby said.
One thing the boys had in common was poverty, the reason why they were killed, according to Maria Isabelita, Espinosa’s mother.
“If the suspect is rich, they’re set free. If they’re poor, they end up sprawled on the street,” she said.

Maria Isabelita and the other relatives had another complaint as well. “Why do they want us to pay P40,000 when we can pay just P7,500 at another funeral home? We are poor, we don’t have money. Our children already died and they still want to rob us,” she said.
Hours after the massacre, she and the other kin of the victims were pleading with the police and employees of North Star Funeral Homes—the police-accredited funeral home which earlier picked up the dead—to turn over the bodies to them.
Since they were not given the right over their lives, maybe the families could have, at least, the right to handle their death?
When the funeral home refused, the families blocked the vehicles bearing their dead. “You cannot take them and make us pay a fortune. We have no money to pay you. Give us our dead,” said Segovia’s sister, Jenny.
However, the remains were taken to Crystal Funeral Homes instead. But before the bodies could be unloaded, the victims’ families arrived and blocked the process.
Another standoff started, this one lasting from midnight to 1:45 a.m. until the police and funeral home management relented, finally releasing the victims’ bodies.
Philippine Daily Enquirer, 30th December

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Pain of the Innocent

We oppose the death penalty as archaic and ineffective, it is inhumane and cruel beyond measure. But what of the execution of the innocent. Justice everywhere is fallible, even, or above all, when based on eyewitness account. There is a particular horror to execution of the innocent. An independent enquiry carried out by one European country, at a time when the death penalty was in use, reported a ten per cent error rate. Occasionally, by immense stamina of the condemned, by good fortune, and  by the lingering doubt of the judiciary, a death penalty is found to be fallacious.. Reading of such a case may help in a season of happiness to recall the ultimate injustice and the immense suffering entailed:            
Susan Kigula, of Ugandan origin, spent sixteen years in a prison in her country, including fourteen on the corridors of death.
In 2000, she was accused of killing her husband with a machete. She was 20 years old. No one wanted to believe her when she explained that burglars had entered her house in the middle of the night and assaulted her family, even though she was taken unconscious to hospital, with a severe neck wound.
Two years later, she was sentenced to death. "Waiting in prison for the final date, counting the days until death, suffering the anguish of never seeing her family again, is the worst," says the Ugandan woman.
"Hope gradually disappears.”
To ward off despair, Susan Kigula began to educate herself behind bars. She achieved the equivalent of a baccalauréat and thus gained access to higher education. "When a prisoner cannot read or write, she cannot even follow her own record or read her rights," explains Charlène Martin, head of the "Educate" program of the association "Ensemble contre la peine de mort".  Driven by a desire to see her daughter, aged one year at the time of her arrest, Susan Kigula completed law studies at the University of London, the same distance program that Nelson Mandela had followed.
"I was determined to learn, because it was the only way to fight my ignorance and thus escape death"
Based on her new knowledge, she was able to initiate a pioneering appeal before the Ugandan Constitutional Court, for herself, but also for 416 other individuals. The judges noted on 10 June 2005 that the systematic condemnation of the death penalty for certain crimes prevented taking into account of extenuating circumstances.
They also condemned the interminable waiting for a cruel and inhuman death.
Since her release in January 2016, Susan Kigula has been campaigning for abolition of the death penalty. She shares her experience with young pupils, "Education and awareness are the keys to success in the fight against the death penalty," she explains. "It is important for young people to understand the implications of a death sentence. It is an irreversible decision, a psychological and physical torture, a hidden vengeance of justice, the useless death of a possibly innocent human being." "Anyone can be sentenced to death for any crime, according to the law and the government of the country," says Susan Kigula. "It is enough that the evidence is convincing, even if it is manipulated or false." She wants to continue living in her country, even though Uganda has deprived her of sixteen years of life; "I've never been a criminal and I do not intend to be a criminal. We need to correct what is wrong for the country to move forward and provide a better future for its citizens" she declares.

Condensed from an account in "Le Monde", 21st October 2016   



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Women take a lead in opposing Duterte killings

President Duterte's policy of extrajudicial killing of alleged drug dealers is being fiercely opposed by two women who are influential politicians. The prominence of these women in opposing the murders is a wonderful expression of political action and bodes well for Philippine government. It is also appropriate that women, who give birth to all human life, take a lead in fighting for its preservation.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hecatomb of Duterte in Philippines grows

The bloody and chaotic campaign against drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte began when he took office on June 30. Since then, about 2,000 people have been slain at the hands of the police alone. The image above shows the location in 49 Manila killing fields where the bodies of 57 victims have been found  during 35 day investigation by a writer from the New York Times (December 7).
The mania of this modern Dr. Goebbels, is shown by his recent threat to include human rights critics who oppose his killings among his victims.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Update on restoration of death penalty in Philippines


The Subcommittee on Justice APPROVED the comprehensive substitute bill which reimposes the death penalty on heinous crimes* and drug-related crimes.

Voted for the approval of the comprehensive bill: (6)
Fred Castro (2nd District, Capiz), Sharon Garin (PL: AAMBIS-OWA), Gwen Garcia (3rd District, Cebu), Arthur Defensor (3rd District, Iloilo), Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), Aurelio Gonzales (3rd District Pampanga), Vicente Veloso (Chair, 3rd District, Leyte)

Voted for the approval of the imposition of death penalty on drug-related crimes only: (5)
Eugene De Vera (PL: ABS), Luis Jose Campos (2nd District, Makati), Eric Singson (2nd District, Ilocos Sur), Victoria Noel (PL: AN WARAY), Roger Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte)

Manifested that they are AGAINST the death penalty: (2)
Rav Rocamora (Lone District, Siquijor),
Lawrence Fortun (1st District, Agusan del Norte)

*Heinous crimes (according to the bill): Treason, Qualified Piracy, Qualified Bribery, Parricide, Murder, Infanticide, Rape, Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention, Robbery with Violence against or Intimidation of Persons, Destructive Arson, Plunder, Carnapping

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Statistics of Those Condemned to Death in Thailand: September 2016

                           Drug related crimes            Non drug related crimes                        Total
Men                           162                                          229                                               391
Women                       51                                            12                                                 63

Total                          213                                          241                                               454

                                       General Prison Statistics
                                      Men                     Women
                                   259,333                   41,535 (Highest rate per population in world)

                                     Total 300,868 (Sixth highest number in world)

Plans to reinstate the death penalty must be abandoned

Paris, Manila: Philippine parliamentarians must shelve proposed draft legislation aimed at reinstating the death penalty in the country’s legal system, FIDH and its member organization Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) urged today. The Philippines abolished capital punishment for all crimes in 2006.
“Legislators must resist the temptation to conclude that the restoration of the death penalty will provide an effective tool to combat crime. Their job is to ensure that new laws comply with international treaties that the Philippines has ratified.”
Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President  

On 9 November, the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on judicial reforms began discussing seven bills that seek to re-impose the death penalty for so-called ‘heinous crimes’ - a broad, unclear, and ill-defined notion, not a legal category. As of 6 September 2016, members of the Congress had introduced at least 16 bills to either repeal existing legislation that prohibited the death penalty or make a number of crimes punishable by death.
As for the executive branch, President Rodrigo Duterte, elected on 9 May 2016, has vowed to reinstate the death penalty for a wide range of crimes, with a particular focus on crimes involving drugs. Other crimes for which Duterte said the death penalty would be reinstated include rape, robbery, and kidnapping that resulted in the victims’ death.
Enacting legislation to reinstate the death penalty is inconsistent with the Philippines’ obligations under international law, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. The Philippines is a state party to both human rights instruments.
Article 6 of the ICCPR guarantees every human being’s “inherent right to life.” In addition, it prescribes that in countries that have not abolished capital punishment, the death penalty may be imposed only for the “most serious crimes,” a threshold that international jurisprudence has repeatedly stated drug-related offenses do not meet. The Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR imposes an obligation on state parties to the convention to refrain from carrying out executions. In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee has affirmed that state parties cannot denounce or withdraw from the ICCPR or its Second Optional Protocol. [1]
“In addition to promoting an atmosphere of vigilantism that has led to the unlawful killing of thousands of Filipinos in the name of the war on drugs, President Duterte’s administration has backed the reinstatement of state-sanctioned killing. It’s time for lawmakers to push back against such folly and reaffirm respect for human rights and the rule of law as the only way forward.”
Rose Trajano, PAHRA Secretary-General and FIDH Vice-President  

FIDH and PAHRA call on the Philippines to respect its international legal obligations by dropping the proposed bills aimed at the reintroduction of the death penalty. FIDH and PAHRA also urge the Philippines to vote in favor of the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution – due to be voted on in December 2016 – that calls for a moratorium on executions.
FIDH, a member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), reiterates its total opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances.
Press contacts
Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66 886117722 (Bangkok)
Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 672284294 (Paris)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Protest letter against Thailand's proposed extension of the death penalty

The following letter responds to a proposal to impose a maximum penalty of death against politicians involved in selling and  buying political positions. The measure has been proposed in a draft organic law of Thailand's Constitution Drafting Committee
"The proposal by the Constitution Drafting Committee of death penalty for politicians involved in selling and buying political positions, is ill considered and an outrage to international law. While the ultimate aim of the treaties in international law ratified by Thailand, in particular, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, is a final abolition of the death penalty, its application is currently restricted to the crime of intentional homicide. The CDC appears totally unaware of the implications of international law, and considers the death penalty as a game counter which may be cast for whatever reason. The death penalty for crime less than intentional homicide is offensive to our international obligations. Besides, the death penalty is not effective in controlling crime. But most important of all, it offends against the epic Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which lays the standard for democratic justice in our modern world, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”.
The facile attempt to invoke the death penalty is a symptom of the decay of the Thai justice system where submission of civilians to military courts, and invocation of the notorious Article 44 have established abuse of democratic principle. Even the protest of Mr. Peerasak Porjit and others against imposition of the penalty are poorly founded on the basis that the “death penalty has been abolished in several countries” is a massive understatement of the status of worldwide opposition to capital punishment. The death penalty is being rejected as abuse of the most basic human right, and, also, for its failure as a legal sanction. There are no short cuts to a working democracy; corruption must be ended by education,  and participation of people in the function of government.
Danthong Breen, Union for Civil Liberty"
Letter to Bangkok Post, 19th November 2016


Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Philippines must not bring back the death penalty

"The Philippines government must immediately halt its initiative to restore the death penalty to the country after abolishing the practice a decade ago, said the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today.
The ICJ received reports that the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reform of the House of Representatives of the Philippines has commenced hearings on a bill bringing back the death penalty into Philippine domestic laws. The first hearing reportedly occurred on 8 November 2016.  The hearing took place without adequate notice, preventing important stakeholders from participating or giving input. 
“President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration seems to be hell-bent on returning to the bad old days of executing people,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia director. “Reinstating the death penalty would breach the Philippines’ international legal obligations and would constitute an all-out assault on decades of global advances in protecting the right to life through abolition of this barbarous practice.”
Under international standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, States may not reintroduce the death penalty once it has been abolished.
The ICJ considers that the death penalty constitutes a violation of the right to life and the prohibition on cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
“There appears to be a deliberate strategy on the part of the House of Representatives to circumvent meaningful consultations and a full debate on this unconscionable measure,” said Zarifi. “The ramifications on the Philippines’ obligations under international law appear not to have been properly considered by legislators who proposed the measure bringing back the death penalty.”  
Until now the Philippines had set an example of regional and global best practice on the abolition of the death penalty. It abolished the death penalty in 2006 and became the first member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to become party to the 2nd Optional Protocol to the ICCPR on the abolition of the death penalty. 
The 2nd Optional Protocol provides for no possibility of denunciation or withdrawal and the Human Rights Committee has affirmed that States Parties may not withdraw from this treaty.  Moreover, the Committee has stressed that under the ICCPR, no abolitionist State may lawfully reintroduce the death penalty under Article 6 on the right to life, whether or not they are party to the 2nd Optional protocol.
“The Philippines Congress must perform its role as an equal branch of the government and stop such a horrific move backwards for the country,” Zarifi said. “Filipino legislators must question the government as to why it’s even considering such an action, especially at a time when the country is facing an outbreak of extrajudicial executions with apparent government complicity.”
On 31 May 2016, the ICJ wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte underscoring that the death penalty was not only an affront to human rights, but that it had no demonstrable deterrent effect on addressing serious crime. The ICJ pointed out that investing in improved investigation techniques and capacity, and making other needed reforms to the criminal justice system would be the best way to reduce crime."

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Killing that is an Execution


Senator Ping Lacson asks police leadership to give real story on killing of Mayor Espinosa. Duterte says he believes police story–that Espinosa was slain in shootout inside his cell. Spokesperson says President’s comment was ‘simply an assumption of regularity’

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Friday said the police leadership should tell President Duterte the real story behind the police killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. inside a jail in Leyte, following an initial Senate finding that the slaying of the alleged drug trafficker was premeditated.
Mr. Duterte, speaking to reporters after arriving from a trip to Thailand and Malaysia late on Thursday, said he believed the police account that Espinosa was killed in a shootout with officers who had come with a warrant to search his cell for weapons and drugs before dawn on Nov. 5.
“I believe in the version of the police,” Mr. Duterte said.
“[If they] have evidence to prove otherwise, then a case should be filed against the police,” he added, referring to the Senate investigators.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs headed by Lacson opened an inquiry into Espinosa’s shooting death on Thursday and heard testimony from officers involved that led to the initial finding that the killing of the mayor was premeditated.
Police story
The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Eastern Visayas (Region 8) claimed that officers from the group went to the Leyte subprovincial jail in Baybay City before dawn on Nov. 5 with a warrant to search Espinosa’s cell for weapons and drugs.
But Espinosa fired at the policemen, forcing them to shoot back, killing him.
Another inmate, Raul Yap, was killed in the shootout.
Crime scene investigators recovered guns and sachets of “shabu,” a highly addictive form of methamphetamine, in the two men’s cells.
The Leyte provincial police investigated the killings, found there was no shootout, and directed the Regional Internal Affairs Service to conduct a separate probe.
During Thursday’s opening hearing, the senators heard testimony that at 3:49 a.m. on Nov. 5, Supt. Santi Noel Matira, leader of the CIDG-8 raiding team, called for crime scene investigators to join the operation. The team, however, entered the jail at 4:30 a.m.
That, to Lacson, a former PNP chief, meant only one thing: the policemen went to the jail to kill Espinosa.
“You had not even entered [the jail but] you were already calling for [crime scene investigators]? Were you anticipating that you were going to kill someone?” he said. “It’s like calling the funeral parlor [before someone has died].”
Lacson earlier described Espinosa’s death as a “clear case of extrajudicial killing.”

OnThursday, he said, “There’s one word to describe this: premeditated.”

Several senators said they believed Espinosa was eliminated, as he had submitted a statement linking politicians, policemen, including some narcotics officials, to his illegal drug business.
On Friday, Lacson said the PNP leadership should tell Mr. Duterte what really happened.
“Their chief and, if possible, the command group and the key officers should request for a noholds-barred meeting with [the President],” Lacson said.
The PNP leadership, he said, should deal with concerns from top officials about how “overeager elements” on the force are “bypassing the chain [of command]” and feeding the President incorrect information.
Lacson, who still has sources within the PNP that he once headed, said several “top and middle level officials” had been airing such concerns “for quite sometime.”
The Office of the Ombudsman will investigate the killing of Espinosa.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales confirmed to reporters on Friday that she had formed a group to look into the mayor’s death.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Supreme Court are also investigating the matter.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said he was “not surprised” that Mr. Duterte accepted the police version of the killing.
“He made a calculation and decided to take the side of the CIDG Region 8. I hope that his taking their side will not lead to more abuses to be committed by rogue PNP elements,” Recto told the Inquirer in a text message.
‘Assumption of regularity’
Mr. Duterte’s spokesperson, Ernesto Abella, said the President’s comment was “simply an assumption of regularity.”
The PNP investigation is going on, and “the whole process will unfold,” Abella said.
He said Mr. Duterte was bound to go by the results of the PNP’s investigation.
Before leaving for Thailand on Wednesday, Mr. Duterte said he found nothing puzzling about the killing of Espinosa, whom he publicly linked to the illegal drug trade in August.

“You have here a guy—government employee—using his office and money of the government cooking shabu and destroying the lives of many millions of Filipinos. So what is there for me to say about it?” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Philippine parliament is attempting to pass legislation, before the year end, to restore the death penalty,

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Malaysia and the Death Penalty

Madpet (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) urges Azalina Othman, who replaced Nancy Shukri in mid-July as the
new de facto Minister of Law, to expedite the tabling of the much needed
amendments that will abolish the death penalty.
Madpet also urges that Malaysia announce a moratorium on ALL executions,
not just for drug trafficking, pending the tabling of amendments, that
would see the abolition of the mandatory death penalty, and hopefully also
the abolition of the death penalty. As of May 16, there are 1,041 persons
on death row.
Madpet also urges Malaysia to vote in favour of the upcoming United Nations
General Assembly Resolution calling for a moratorium on executions pending
abolition of the death penalty, or at the very least record a vote of
Madpet reiterates its call for Malaysia to abolish the death penalty, and
hopes that by the next World Day Against the Death Penalty, Malaysia will
proudly stand amongst countries that have abolished the death penalty.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thailand still massively in support of death penalty


Bus driver caught for beating passenger to death, robbing her
Article in Bangkok Post heading of 30th August, rapidly attracts the following comment,

Death penalty please!  with 35 approvals and 5 dissents
The further response:
 Why? No, the death penalty is known to fail as a deterrent, and to debase the value of life.
attracts 5 approvals and 24 dissents, showing that Thailand remains one of the minority countries in the world unable to progress beyond the primitive savagery of the death penalty.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Drugs and the Solutions

    "We will not stop"; the picture says everything. Why is the ASEAN human rights body mute in face of this blatant denial of human rights standards?                                                                                        
1. Philippines



2. Indonesia


Friday, July 29, 2016

The Day After - Indonesia 29th July 2016

Execution is a form of murder.......
 "A violent storm and downpour of rain deluged the site at the moment of execution..." Le Monde, 29th July
 "German philosopher Immanuel Kant writes that judicial punishment can never be used as a means to promote some other good for civil society since a human being can never be instrumentalized merely as a means to another’s end.

That means that to punish someone for the purpose of deterrence is to use the person punished as a mere tool and thus to do him or her an injustice.

This is the main humanitarian reason why many countries in the world have abolished the death penalty.

Once the death penalty was considered a tool to deter future crimes. But because humanity was regarded as the most essential thing in the constitutions, capital punishment was removed.

"As Kant points out, humanity has to be inherent in judicial punishment. It implies that lex talionis (an eye for an eye) is invulnerable to deterrence.

Judicial punishment, therefore, should be a chance for offenders to be humanized or civilized.

Unfortunately, in the case of the death penalty, Indonesia strictly disregards this moral facet by manipulating and criminalizing offenders as tools of deterrence.

The Constitutional Court rejected in January last year yet another attempt to abolish the death penalty in the country, especially in drug and murder cases.

A judicial review of the capital punishment article in the Criminal Code was filed, among others by members of the Bali Nine, a group of Australian citizens sentenced to prison and death for smuggling drugs into Bali in 2005.

Over the last two years, Indonesia has executed 30 convicts, mostly foreigners, for drug-related crimes, defying international calls for an end to the death penalty.

Through the decision the government insisted that the death penalty is the only way to uphold humanity and sovereignty.

Such arguments seem very precarious. One could argue that capital punishment is a shock therapy. Consequently, executions result in shock and or fear of committing a crime and later on a decline in the number of certain crimes.

Execution is a form of murder, which is a crime and contradicts the logic of justice, but for the purpose of honoring the law it is made an exception.
It is because of this exception that the death penalty is legally and morally weak. On the moral side, capital punishment contravenes the values of justice, dehumanizes people and disrupts peace.
On the legal side, the death penalty is a reckless way to justify or institutionalize state crime or murder.
Put simply, we may understand why President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected clemency petitions from many quarters. His refusal appears to have something to do with the constitution, which legalizes the death penalty.
There is nothing wrong with it constitutionally, because as the President, Jokowi has to uphold the constitution and national law.
However, if we accept humanity as the essence of the law, the biggest problem that we should address does not concern Jokowi’s decision, but how to reform the Indonesian legal system in order to transmit humanity."

Charles Beraf, Jakarta Post 29th July 2016 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Philippines: Dagupan City honor student shot dead by vigilantes

Nothing seems right when an innocent person gets killed.
Last week, vigilante groups identifying themselves as the Dagupan Death Squad and the Pangasinan Death Squad claimed the responsibility for killing six individuals in the Pangasinan area.
However, at least one of the casualties of the vigilante killings does not fit the profile of a drug peddler or a drug user.
A 22-year-old college student named Rowena Tiamson, who was also an active member of a church choir, was shot to death by vigilantes. Her family and friends believe hers was a case of mistaken identity.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) confirmed that Tiamson was not among the people in their "drugs watchlist."
Tiamson was a consistent honor student who was described by her friends as a very kind person. She was supposed to graduate from her Mass Communications course this year.

The inevitable killing of innocents "happens". Mistaken executions occur even under the most developed legal systems. Extrajudicial killings are just criminal killings, without safeguards or even the faulty protection of legal procedure. Who were the killers? Why was Rowena killed? The only certain thing is that she is dead, there is no explanation, no answer to questions, just her body thrown on the wayside.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Executions in Indonesia on July 28th

                                         Gate to Island of Death Prison
Indonesia is running a serious risk of executing innocent persons if it insists on going ahead with the executions of 14 death row convicts, expected on Friday.                                                                                          
The convicts, who have received official notification letters of their forthcoming execution on Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, are Indonesians Agus Hadi Bin Hadi, Freddy Budiman Bin H. Manan, Merri Utami and Pujo Lestari Bin Sukatno, Eugene Ape from Nigeria, Fredderikk Luttar (Zimbabwe), Humphery Jefferson Ejike Eleweke (Nigeria), Gurdip Singh (India), Michael Titus Igweh (Nigeria), Obina Nwajagu Bin Emeuwa (Nigeria), Okonkwo Nongso Kingsley (Nigeria), 0zias Sibanda (Zimbabwe), Seck Osmane (Nigeria, but Senegalese passport holder) and Zulfiqar Ali of Pakistan.

More people have stepped forward to urge President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo not to proceed with the executions because of possible miscarriages of justice.

Pakistani convict Ali has been suffering from the effects of liver damage since May, allegedly the result of torture committed by security personnel during his detention.

According to Ali’s lawyer Saut Edward Rajagukguk, he has been treated unfairly since he was arrested in 2004 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for heroin possession.

The government of Pakistan has sought a postponement of the execution and requested a review of his trial. Pakistani Ambassador Aqil Naseem said the government of Pakistan respected the Indonesian legal system, but believed that the legal process against Ali was flawed.

“It didn’t provide justice to Zulfiqar. In the case, the prosecutor did not seek the death penalty,” Naseem told The Jakarta Post.

National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Hafid Abbas has revealed neglected findings by an investigative team of the Law and Human Rights Ministry between 2002 and 2003.

After thorough examination of court rulings, historical background and field checks in Ali’s home country, the team concluded that the convict may be innocent.

It also recommended then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cancel Ali’s death sentence and order a further investigation into the case.

“I swear that the work of the team back then was accountable. I am sure that Zulfiqar is innocent,” Hafid said.

He added that then law and human rights minister Patrialis Akbar had submitted a thorough confidential report on the findings to Yudhoyono. “I believe the document is still at the State Palace. It’s worth re-checking to save Zulfiqar’s life. Every life matters,” Hafid declared.

Nigerian Eleweke is also among the death row convicts that reportedly received an unfair trial.

Director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Sidney Jones, has submitted a dossier to the Post, containing chronology and evidence that indicates Eleweke may be innocent.

The dossier outlines police procedural violations, including the lack of a search warrant, a signed confession allegedly obtained through torture, as evidence pointing to Eleweke having no connection to the drugs for the possession of which he was convicted.

Eleweke filed appeals in 2004 and 2006 to the Supreme Court, in which key witnesses and related convicts testified that he had nothing to do with the case and was framed by Charles “Kelly” Kanu, a drug smuggler, because Eleweke implemented a no-drug policy and did not allow drug transactions in the restaurant he owned. The court rejected both of his appeals.

Indonesia’s Merri, meanwhile, was arrested by Soekarno-Hatta officials in October 2001 for possession of 1.1 kilograms of heroin.

Tangerang State Court sentenced her to death in 2002, after which she filed a plea to a higher court. But the Tangerang High Court supported the earlier verdict.

In 2003, the Supreme Court also rejected Merri’s appeal, and she had been on death row for 13 years before the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) finally set her execution date for this week.

As the executions are expected in less than 72 hours, Cilacap Prosecutor’s Office gathered legal and family representatives of the convicts and special envoys for document checks. Cilacap Police spokesman Adj. Comr. Bintoro said there would be 1,500 personnel deployed to secure the execution area.

Despite the irregularities in the cases raising questions as to whether the legal processes behind all the convictions were sound, the government has insisted the executions will go ahead.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that imposing the death penalty was in the hands of the courts. “The government only carries out the courts’ sentences, which are final and binding,” he said.

The Jakarta Post 27th July 2016

See highlighted section in following post. What else is there to say?


Monday, July 18, 2016

6th World Congress against Death Penalty: Council of Europe

From Opening Address by Thorbjorn Jagland: Secrertary General of Council of Europe                               
You all know the many different arguments against capital punishment – ethical, social, financial even.
You don’t need me to repeat them.
But I do want to stress one basic truth which is sometimes downplayed in this debate.
There is no body of credible evidence to suggest that capital punishment deters crime.
Across the world men and women – and children – are being executed on the basis of an unproven assumption: that it will
make their societies safer.
While, on the contrary, study after study says the same thing:
No one can prove that the death penalty works – still, after all this time.
You can compare Hong Kong, which abolished capital punishment in the 1990s, with Singapore, which massively increased
 its usage during the same period.
You can compare the United States with Canada, when only the former restored it.
Within the United States, you can compare those states which still use the death penalty with those states which don’t.
In every case, what do you find?
No detectable effect of capital punishment on violent crime.
For this reason – as much as any other – it is up to democratic nations, old and new, to lead the fight against the death penalty.
Because democratic government should be rational government. In Europe we got rid of government by superstition and
myth during the Enlightenment! Democracy, by contrast, embraces reason. And the only reasonable conclusion is that we
build our justice systems on evidence and fact.
Today I therefore repeat my call for the Federal Government of the United States to end its commitment to the death penalty.
President Obama: what a legacy that would be?
It is incomprehensible that one of the world’s leading democracies – built on the promise of individual liberty – still tolerates this medieval punishment.
I commend the numerous state authorities who have either abolished capital punishment or made steps towards it in recent
And I urge the White House to look around at the other death-penalty-nations and ask itself: do we really want to be part
of this club?
In Europe, too, there is more to be done.
The Council of Europe takes great pride in having been a driving force in making our continent death-penalty-free for more
than 800 million people.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Appearance of a leader countering the slaughter campaign of President Duterte

Senator Leila De Lima, former justice secretary and human rights chief, yesterday vowed to remain vigilant as the Duterte administration pursues what is shaping up to be a bloody war against crime and drugs, saying she will be the protector of civil liberties in case of law enforcement excesses.

She started the ball rolling on Thursday when she called for a congressional inquiry into the spate of drug killings and vigilante-style slayings amid Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs. The death toll has exceeded 100 since the President took office on June 30. De Lima emphasized the need for checks and balances among the branches of government, saying this mechanism “assumes a pivotal role in this context, now more than ever.”

“If I see that our Bill of Rights is already being compromised in the course of this campaign, I will not sit idly by and stay silent. Somebody must speak out against any attack on our civil liberties,” De Lima said in a text message. “We cannot allow any diminution of this constitutional precept because it remains to be the only guarantee against abuse of executive power,” she said.

It was with the same gusto that De Lima pursued an investigation into summary executions attributed to the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante purge team to which Mr. Duterte had been linked. Such stance had earned for De Lima Mr. Duterte’s sharp retorts, most notably during the campaign period. In one instance, the tough-talking Mr. Duterte told her to “shut up,” and threatened to file charges against her for the unabated drug peddling at the national penitentiary—an agency under the DOJ—despite her consecutive raids.  

“I will always assert the supremacy of the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, and the system of
checks and balances in our government,” De Lima said. “I will be doing a lot of balancing act both as an
anticrime and anticorruption crusader and a human rights advocate and defender.”

Based on news item in Philippine Daily Enquirer, 10th July 2016



Saturday, July 09, 2016

Duterte Drug War is a Killing Field

"PRESIDENT Duterte’s war on drugs is spiraling out of control, a top human rights lawyer and opposition lawmakers said yesterday as police confirmed killing more than 100 drug suspects and at least two senators expressed support for a proposed Senate investigation of the killings.
NOT AIR FORCE ONE President Duterte flies economy on board a Philippine Airlines plane on his way home to Davao on Thursday.
“President Duterte’s war on crime has spawned a nuclear explosion of violence that is spiraling out of control and creating a nation without judges, without law and without reason,” said Manuel Diokno, chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Diokno, a prominent law professor, likened the killings to the actions of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, accused of killing thousands of dissidents during a 20-year rule that ended in 1986.

Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the President’s rhetoric “breeds a culture of violence and culture of retribution.

Baguilat and Sen. Leila de Lima have asked Congress to investigate the drug killings.

But the new chief of the Philippine National Police, Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, said police should not be cowed by the proposed congressional inquiry.

He said the PNP would solve the country’s illegal drugs problem in three to six months.

The PNP said 103 drug suspects who resisted arrest had been killed, but insisted the policemen operated within the boundaries of the law.

“They put in danger the lives of our police officers who then had to defend themselves,” PNP spokesperson Dionaldo Carlos said"

                                                                                                                                        Philippine Daily Enquirer, 9th July

Thailand already travelled this path; in 2003 up to 3,000  persons were gunned down, without judicial identification or procedure. The claim that such slaughter can solve the problem of drugs is a fallacy, and causes immense damage to civil society. The PNP claim to solve the illegal drugs problem in three to six months is a mirage. The insistence that the police acted in self defence is a tired  worn excuse, clearly false when the various circumstances of the killings are read. For example:
"Mitra was found dead in his backyard with multiple gunshot wounds.

In Sariaya town, Alejandro Sante Umbrete, another suspected pusher, was shot dead by an unidentified assailant in Barangay Talaan Aplaya early yesterday.
Umbrete, according to Sariaya police chief Supt. Alex Dimaculangan, was on the list of drug suspects in Lucena City.

Another drug suspect, Midelito Montealto Chumacera, was killed while he was driving a jeepney by a motorcycle-riding assailant in Barangay Concepcion Uno in Sariaya".  Ditto 

These examples surely do not indicate a confrontation with police officers.

Yes, President Duerte may well travel in an economy plane seat, but he cannot claim absolute power of life and death. The protests already raised in the Philippines must be echoed in Asia and throughout the world.

Events in the Philippines and Death Penalty Thailand
The movement for abolition of the death penalty, as well illustrated in the Recent Congress in Oslo, is a worldwide issue. We advance and we fail together. This is especially true of the movement for abolition in South East Asia, ASEAN. There have been few advances in abolition in the region, and the threat of the Philippines to reinstate the death penalty has resonances in other ASEAN countries who are cool to human rights advances in ASEAN member states, but who derive comfort from regressive measures elsewhere which fortify their own dismal practices. It is in this perspective that the Death Penalty in any ASEAN state influences that of Thailand. We follow each others example and plead the cause of common practice according to shared Asian Values, which could and should have a positive connotation but is rather the notorious excuse for the worst of human practice rather than the better.  As member citizens of ASEAN we have an interest and the right to observe and comment on practice in other ASEAN countries. We do not have to wait for unanimous consensus, nor do we neglect the right to comment on the internal practice of other members of the alliance, which mightily  affect internal practice in our own country.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

President Duterte of Philippines initiates a rampage of non-judicial killings

Before dawn on Friday a bullet-riddled body was found in a Manila slum with a sign on it that read: “I am a Chinese drug lord,” local police said.
The murder bore all the hallmarks of an extrajudicial killing, which would make it the first of Duterte’s presidency.
Manila police district deputy director for operations Marcelino Pedroso told AFP the death was being considered a summary execution because the victim was apparently killed due to alleged involvement in drugs. He said there were no suspects.
With Duterte’s encouragement, police had already killed dozens of alleged or suspected drug traffickers in the time between his May 9 election victory and Thursday’s inauguration.

Drug crimes have been declared by the UNHCHR not to be 'most serious crimes' which might be subject to the death penalty, Besides, there is no evidence that executions are effective in controlling drug crime. Meanwhile the recently elected president of the Philippines is invoking extrajudicial killings as a measure to control drug crime. The Philippines like most Asian countries are plagued by drugs; but the Philippines is ever more plagued by extrajudicial killings. Under Duterte, drugs will certainly flourish further, and extrajudicial killings will exceed all bounds.  

6th World Congress on Abolition of the Death Penalty

Perhas the strongest argument in favour of retaining the death penalty is that it is a necessary deterrence to serious crime. The following was a slide presented during the Congress by Professor Jeffrey Fagan during the session "Progress and Setbacks in Asia: Lessons to be learnt"
The Problem with Deterrence

No empirical evidence of a deterrent effect from execution. The
evidence was deeply flawed (NRC Report). 
Persons committing a death-eligible crime have motivations that
overwhelm their worry about the possibility of execution.
They also strongly discount the actual risk of arrest and execution

There is no evidence that drug prices or drug markets are affected by
executions for drug crimes. 
The claims that drug crimes cause deaths are based on poor empirical
evidence. If drugs do not cause deaths, there is no basis to assume
that executions will reduce deaths. It also is a moral hazard from
which there is no recovery.