ASEAN parliamentarians urge Duterte: Reject death penalty

ASEAN parliamentarians urge Duterte: Reject death penalty

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2017 03:46 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2017 04:40 PM

Parliamentarians from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday urged Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies at the House of Representatives to reject the re-imposition of the death penalty in the country, and to respect the Philippines’ international obligations and standing in the ASEAN as a regional leader in human rights protection.

Instead of bringing back the death penalty, the Philippines and ASEAN should think about reforms, preventive measures, and rehabilitation, as ways of deterring crimes instead of the old “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” doctrine, Cambodia Rep. Mu Sochua, Battambang Representative of the National Assembly of Cambodia, said.

“Killing, in whatever form, is a form of violence. Death penalty is the extreme form of violence,” Sochua said.

Malaysia, a nation that still imposes capital punishment, still gets opposition from its legislators lobbying for the abolition of the punishment that has been labeled as anti-poor.

Malaysian Batukawan Representative Kasthuri Patto of the Parliament of Malaysia said most victims, if not all, of capital punishment in Malaysia are the poor.

“The ones who are normally victims of this are the marginalized, the poor. Members of the opposition have been lobbying to push for the abolition, particularly in drug trafficking,” Patto said.

“Of the 1,000 people who are in death row, 600 are foreigners,” Patto added.

She added that the Malaysian government has already put up a committee that will look into the methods of the death penalty.

The Philippines, represented by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, argued that there is consensus worldwide that the death penalty is not an effective means of combating crime, including illegal drugs.

“Iran has had the death penalty since 1959 and yet they admitted the death penalty did not solve their drug problem,” she said.

“Singapore and Hongkong…Hongkong has no death penalty, Singapore does, but they have the same crime rate,” Hontiveros added.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians also reminded the Duterte administration about the country’s international obligations.

The Philippines formally abolished capital punishment in 2006 and ratified in 2007 the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) aimed at the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.

“We have always been inspired by your people power movement, democracy. We want to continue to put you in that high platform, to play that role to protect fundamental rights for our people,” Sochua said.

“The Philippines must commit to its true self of being a righteous nation, a nation of faith, a nation that is looked upon,” Patto said.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said that since the Philippines abolished capital punishment in 2006, it has inspired other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to restrict the use of the death penalty, which denotes positive regional progress in the move toward abolition. – ABS CBN News, 15/2/2017

Philippines: House of Representatives must uphold international law obligations ahead of first death penalty vote

JOINT STATEMENT

19 February 2017

Philippines: House of Representatives must uphold international law obligations ahead of first death penalty vote

Ahead of the first vote on the proposed legislative amendments to reintroduce the death penalty in the Philippines, the undersigned organizations are calling on the country’s lawmakers to uphold its international law obligations and vote against the measure. The move would set the Philippines against its positive achievements in this area and the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

On 20 February the House of Representatives of the Philippines is expected to vote on a Bill to reintroduce the death penalty for a wide range of offences. The move would violate the country’s intended obligations under international law. In 2007 the Philippines ratified the Second Optional Protocol of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights that categorically prohibits executions and commits the country to the abolition of this punishment. These obligations cannot be withdrawn at any time.

We remain concerned at the “U turn” that the present administration is proposing for the country on the issue of the death penalty. Since its abolition of the death penalty − for the second time − in 2006, the Philippines has been a strong advocate of the abolition of the death penalty and has championed several initiatives to this aim in international forums. It has also worked to commute the death sentences imposed on Filipino nationals abroad, such as overseas workers. The legal assistance and political pressure that the authorities of the Philippines have provided to those facing this punishment in other countries has undoubtedly contributed to the protection of their rights, including the right to a fair trial, and could become ineffective if moves were made to re-introduce this penalty back home.

As of today, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice; several governments are taking steps to repeal this punishment from national law.

The reasons countries abolish the death penalty are many and include the fact that there is no evidence that killing by the state deters crime, and much evidence to the contrary; that the death penalty invariably discriminates against the poor and disadvantaged, and that society and the state are seriously harmed and brutalised by descending to the act of killing prisoners.

A move to reintroduce this punishment would set the Philippines starkly against the global trend towards abolition. We oppose the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances as a violation of the right to life, recognized by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights; and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

We renew our call on the members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to ensure its international commitments are respected and the Bill to reintroduce the death penalty is rejected.

This statement is signed by:

 

ACAT-Philippines

ADPAN-Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

Amnesty International

Death Penalty Focus

ECPM-Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort

FIACAT-Federation of Actions of Christians for the Abolition of Torture

FIDH-International Federation for Human Rights

MADPET-Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture

Reprieve-Australia

UNGA Resolution 2016 -24 of OIC’s 57 member states voted in favour, 13 abstained and 18 voted against

The resolution adopted on Dec 19, 2016 was backed by 117 states, while 40 voted against it and 31 abstained.
South Asia maintained its fondness for the death penalty as Pakistan joined Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Maldives in rejecting a universal moratorium, while Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka voted in favour.
24 of the OIC’s 57 member states voted in favour of the moratorium, while 13 abstained and only 18 voted against. The Muslim states that voted against were: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Egypt, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Those who abstained included: Bahrain, Came­roon, Comoros, Djibouti, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and the UAE.

The love of hanging

PAKISTAN chose to vote against the recent resolution in the United Nations General Assembly that had called for a global moratorium on the death penalty and was adopted by a majority of member-states.

The gist of this resolution has been adopted by the UN General Assembly every two years since 2007. The resolution adopted on Dec 19, 2016 was backed by 117 states, while 40 voted against it and 31 abstained. As against the voting pattern in 2014, the new supporters of the moratorium call were Guinea, Malawi, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Swaziland.

South Asia maintained its fondness for the death penalty as Pakistan joined Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Maldives in rejecting a universal moratorium, while Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka voted in favour.


Pakistani authorities have an aversion to any scrutiny of the rationale for retaining the death penalty.


Those who defend the death penalty as a principle enjoined by Islam may look at the division among the Muslim states (the category includes all members of the OIC).

Those voting in favour of a moratorium included: Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kazakh­stan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Suriname, Togo, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Those who abstained included: Bahrain, Came­roon, Comoros, Djibouti, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and the UAE.

The Muslim states that voted against were: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Egypt, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

We find that 24 of the OIC’s 57 member states voted in favour of the moratorium, while 13 abstained and only 18 voted against. In other words, Pakistan is in the minority group of 18 OIC member-countries that opposes the moratorium.

It is for Pakistan’s government and its Islamic scholars to ponder as to why a majority of the OIC members do not find any faith-based bar to the acceptance of a moratorium on capital punishment. They may also consider the possibility that, as in the case of some international treaties, reservations expressed in the name of religion are in fact dictated by the culture or custom of the countries concerned.

What is more distressing for human rights activists, abolitionist groups and promoters of humanitarian laws in Pakistan is the authorities’ aversion to any scrutiny of the rationale for their love of the death penalty regime.

What one hears of references to the death penalty during the Universal Periodic Review or at talks with the European Union on the GSP+ status is not the result of any serious deliberation. Indeed, one doubts if any discussion on the subject has ever taken place in Pakistan. That there is an urgent need for such a discussion can easily be established.

The recent cases in which the Supreme Court acquitted two individuals who had already been executed, or ordered the release of persons who had spent long years on death row, have strengthened the call for abolition of the death penalty on the ground of high risk of miscarriage of justice. A number of other issues that have surfaced over the past many years also need to be addressed. These are:

• The view that the death sentence is not a deterrent to crime has not been challenged nor has the view that hangings brutalise society.

• The Qisas law has prevented the president from pardoning death convicts or commuting their sentence although his power to do so under Article 45 of the Constitution remains intact. How does one explain the fact that the army chief can pardon a person awarded the death sentence by a military court while the president cannot do so?

• The scholars agree that Islam prescribes the death penalty in only two instances. How does the state defend the fact that capital punishment is prescribed for 27 offences in the name of religion?

• The judiciary has pointed out the problems it faces in cases in which capital punishment is mandatory if the evidence on record warrants a lesser penalty.

• The possibility of a minor or a mentally challenged person being executed keeps cropping up every now and then.

One ventures to suggest a look at the Indian response to the issue of the death penalty in view of the shared legal tradition.

The Law Commission of India recommended in August 2015, vide its Report No. 262, that “the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism-related offences and waging war”. The commission agreed to retain capital punishment for certain offences in view of the parliamentarians’ plea that “abolition of death penalty for terrorism-related offences and waging war will affect national security”, although in the commission’s view “there is no valid penological justification for treating terrorism differently from other crimes.”

The commission noted the significant steps taken during India’s decades-long efforts to restrict the use of the death penalty: removal of the requirement of giving special reasons for awarding life imprisonment instead of death (1955); introduction of the requirement of imposing the death penalty (1973); and the Supreme Court’s decision that the death penalty should be restricted to the rarest of rare cases (1980). The conclusion reached by the commission was:

“Informed also by the expanded and deepened contents and horizons of the right to life and strengthened due process requirements in the interactions between the state and the individual, prevailing standards of constitutional morality and human dignity, the commission feels that time has come for India to move towards abolition of the death penalty.”

During the latest debate in the UN General Assembly, however, India again voted against the resolution calling for a moratorium although it could have shown some respect for the Law Commission’s recommendation by abstaining. Which only goes to show that, in developing countries, state policies are often determined by authorities that are too timid to disturb the status quo or too proud of their conservatism to heed the counsel of experts who are conscious of the call of the age.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2017

Thailand – Death penalty proposed for corrupt public officials

Monday, 9 January 2017

Death penalty proposed for corrupt public officials

BANGKOK: A proposal to impose the death penalty on any convicted corrupt public official who incurs more than 1bil baht (RM125mil) in damage to the state has been tabled for the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) meeting.

The proposal was made by its political reform steering committee, chaired by Seree Suwanpanont, as part of their report on regulation and scrutiny of the exercise of government power.

The NRSA will also consider a proposal for adjustment in the recruitment of independent agency commissioners.

Besides tougher examination of politicians, the committee proposed that state officials be scrutinised equally in corruption cases.

The reform drivers proposed five years imprisonment for convicted corrupt officials who incur no more than 1mil baht (RM125,188) losses to the state.

Under the proposals, those incurring from 1mil to 10mil baht (RM1.25mil) and 10mil to 100mil baht (RM12.5mil) should face 10 and 20 years jail respectively, while those inflicting losses between 100mil and 1bil baht (RM125mil) should receive a life term.

The committee also proposed that once the NRSA passed the report, it should be submitted to the Cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the Constitution Drafting Commission for further deliberation.

The report centres on reforming the mechanisms for scrutiny of the executive branch. Among them is reform of the independent agencies, including the Constitutional Court.

It was proposed that the process for recruiting commissioners and judges as stipulated in the charter that passed last August’s referendum should be adjusted.

Previously, it was set out that representatives from related independent agencies should play a part in the recruitment. However, the NRSA political reform steering committee suggested that details of such representatives should be spelled out clearly – whether to use the current commissioners and personnel or others. It said this was to prevent any lack of transparency.

In addition, as the new charter has laid out very high qualifications for commissioners, the committee urged clear definition and scope of those qualifications so that the recruitment could be of the same standard.

The opportunity to join the independent agencies’ commission should be opened up to practitioners of all careers, the committee proposed. — The Nation / Asia News Network – Star, 9/1/2017

UNGA 2016 Resolution – How Countries Voted

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY(UNGA) MORATORIUM ON THE USE OF THE DEATH PENALTY RESOLUTION..19/12/2016

 

[117 of the UN’s 193 member states voted in favour of the proposal. Only 40 states voted against it and 31 abstained at the vote]

Below the Draft Test of the Resolution(for the final text, visit UN Website)

The General Assembly,

 

Guided by the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations,

 

Reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,

 

Recalling the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and in this regard welcoming the increasing number of accessions to and ratifications of the Second Optional Protocol,

 

Reaffirming its resolutions 62/149 of 18 December 2007, 63/168 of 18 December 2008, 65/206 of 21 December 2010, 67/176 of 20 December 2012 and 69/186 of 18 December 2014 on the question of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, in which the General Assembly called upon States that still maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing it,

 

Welcoming all relevant decisions and resolutions of the Human Rights Council,

 

Mindful that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable,

 

Convinced that a moratorium on the use of the death penalty contributes to respect for human dignity and to the enhancement and progressive development of human rights, and considering that there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty,

 

Noting ongoing local and national debates and regional initiatives on the death penalty, as well as the readiness of an increasing number of Member States to make available to the public information on the use of the death penalty, and also, in this regard, the decision by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 26/2 of 26 June 20145 to convene biennial high-level panel discussions in order to further exchange views on the question of the death penalty,

 

Recognizing the role of national human rights institutions in contributing to ongoing local and national debates and regional initiatives on the death penalty,

 

Welcoming the considerable movement towards the abolition of the death penalty globally and the fact that many States are applying a moratorium, including long-standing moratoriums, either in law or in practice, on the use of the death penalty,

 

Emphasizing the need to ensure that persons facing the death penalty are treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent dignity and in compliance with their rights under international human rights law,

Noting the technical cooperation among Member States, as well as the role of relevant United Nations entities and human rights mechanisms, in supporting State efforts to establish moratoriums on the death

penalty,

 

Bearing in mind the work of special procedures mandate holders who have addressed human rights issues related to the death penalty within the framework of their respective mandates,

 

  1. Reaffirms the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems, including determining appropriate legal penalties, in accordance with their international law obligations;

 

  1. Expresses its deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty;

 

  1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 69/186 and the recommendations contained therein;

 

  1. Also welcomes the steps taken by some States to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed, as well as steps taken to limit its application;

 

  1. Further welcomes initiatives and political leadership encouraging national discussions and debates on the possibility of moving away from capital punishment through domestic decision-making;

 

  1. Welcomes the decisions made by an increasing number of States from all regions, at all levels of government, to apply a moratorium on executions, followed in many cases by the abolition of the death penalty;

 

  1. Calls upon all States:

 

(a) To respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, in particular the minimum standards, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984, as well as to provide the Secretary-General with information in this regard;

 

(b) To comply with their obligations under article 36 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, particularly the right to receive information on consular assistance;

 

(c) To make available relevant information, disaggregated by sex, age, and race, as applicable, and other applicable criteria, with regard to their use of the death penalty, inter alia, the number of persons sentenced to death, the number of persons on death row and the number of executions carried out, the number of death sentences reversed or commuted on appeal and information on any scheduled execution, which can contribute to possible informed and transparent national and international debates, including on the obligations of States pertaining to the use of the death penalty;

 

(d) To progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and not to impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age, on pregnant women or on persons with mental or intellectual disabilities;

 

(e) To reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed;

 

(f) To ensure that those facing the death penalty can exercise their right to apply for pardon or commutation of their death sentence by ensuring that clemency procedures are fair and transparent and that prompt information is provided at all stages of the process;

 

(g) To establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;

 

  1. Calls upon States which have abolished the death penalty not to reintroduce it, and encourages them to share their experience in this regard;

 

  1. Encourages States which have a moratorium to maintain it and to share their experience in this regard;

 

  1. Calls upon States that have not yet done so to consider acceding to or ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;

 

  1. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session on the implementation of the present resolution;

 

  1. Decides to continue consideration of the matter at its seventy-third session under the item entitled “Promotion and protection of human rights”.

dp2016-country-votes

Some observations of a friend as follows:-

The plenary session of the UN General Assembly adopted yesterday its sixth resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with 117 votes in favour, 40 against and 31 abstentions.

The text of the resolution includes some positive new additions compared to 2014, including:

-a reference to the role of national human rights institutions in contributing to ongoing local and national debates and regional initiatives on the death penalty;

-a request to make available relevant information on any scheduled execution, in addition to other information already listed in previous resolutions;

-a call on states that still retain the death penalty “To ensure that those facing the death penalty can exercise their right to apply for pardon or commutation of their death sentence by ensuring that clemency procedures are fair and transparent and that prompt information is provided at all stages of the process;”

Unfortunately the opponents of the resolution managed this year to include in the resolution a new paragraph that recalls their sovereign right to determine their legal systems, as follows:

“1. Reaffirms the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems, including determining appropriate legal penalties, in accordance with their international law obligations;”

While the number of the votes in favour remained the same as in 2014, there have been some interesting changes in the voting, both positively and negatively:

Positive changes:

-Guinea, Malawi, Namibia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka moved from abstention to vote in favour;

-Zimbabwe moved from vote against to abstention;

Swaziland also moved from not present to vote in favour (but voted against the resolution in previous years).

-Lesotho moved from not present to abstention (but abstained in previous resolutions, so did not mention this in our AI statement); Nauru moved from not present to vote in favour (but supported the resolutions in previous years, so we did not mention this in our statement).

Negative changes:

-Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Philippines, Seychelles moved from vote in favour to abstention;

-Maldives moved from abstention to vote against;

-Burundi and South Sudan moved from vote in favour to vote against.

Several states also did not vote yesterday, for whatever reason, contributing to the final results:

-DRC, Gambia, Senegal went from abstention to not present;

-Rwanda  went from vote in favour to not present.

This leaves us with a somewhat bittersweet result: on one hand, the number of votes in favour has not become higher compared to 2014; on the other hand, some of the positive changes might signal the beginning of new journeys towards abolition.

2016 has been a very challenging year all around, including for the death penalty-some of the negative vote changes were somewhat expected, some perhaps speak to greater human rights challenges.

Thank you nonetheless for your continued work to get us all here-look forward to more work together in the new year.

Amnesty International’s public statement on yesterday’s vote can be found below and at this link: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/act50/5389/2016/en/

 

 

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