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,