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

ADPAN urges Philippines not to revive the Death Penalty

Philippine : Do not revive the 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




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.

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

Singapore -Impending Execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha on 18/11/2016 [A Media Statement]

Media Statement – Impending Execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha on 18/11/2016

A Door to Hope

 Chijioke Case


Very soon, yet another individual is about to be executed in a state sanctioned hanging. According to Amnesty International, the date for the execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha (a Nigerian national) has been set for this Friday, 18 November 2016.


On 9 April 2007, Chijioke was found in possession of more than 2.6 kilograms of cannabis, exceeding the statutory amount of 500 grams that under Singapore law triggers the automatic presumption of trafficking. Also in his possession were keys to a room containing additional prohibited substances, leading the authorities to presume him guilty of possession and knowledge of the drugs. In August 2010, an appeal against Chijioke’s conviction and sentence was rejected. In 2013, when amendments to Singapore’s mandatory death penalties laws kicked in, Chijioke initially refused to make use of his right to resentencing. In April 2015, his clemency appeal was rejected and his execution was set for May 2015. Just one day before the execution, he was allowed to apply for resentencing. Following legal advice that he would not qualify as a “courier” under the amended laws, Chijioke withdrew his application for resentencing. This led to the lifting of the stay of execution on 24 October 2016 and the setting of the execution date.


Chijioke has endured more than 9 punishing years in prison. He has been detained not for the purposes of treatment nor rehabilitation but for the purposes of awaiting execution. He has faced unprecedented mental anguish. Changes to the law in 2012 gave him a glimmer of hope but this was again snatched away from him. To our knowledge, Chijioke’s case is possibly the longest delay of an execution in Singapore’s history till today.


In Pratt and Morgan v Attorney-General for Jamaica, the Privy Council held that the delay of 5 years and 6 months which had elapsed since an accused’s conviction amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and breached his constitutional right not to be deprived of life.



A Door towards Hope


Arguments showing any prolonged delay in the execution of an accused could becapable of being a violation of human rights, as inhuman and as degrading. A plethora of international human rights instruments prohibit tortureor cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This prohibition is also found in numerous domestic constitutions.Studies on death row inmates reveal that delays and uncertainties cause depression, loss of the sense of reality, personality distortions, physical and mental deterioration. Judges in several American and Indian decisions have decided that though the death penalty itself may not be cruel per se, lingering delays in solitude with the knowledge of impending extinction that amounts to cruelty.


There was opportunity for Singapore to address the question of delay in death row in 1995. In Jabar v Public Prosecutorthe accused had been languishing in jail for over 5 years awaiting execution. His lawyers placed reliance on Indian cases andthe Jamaican case of Pratt and Morgan, however, the Court of Appeal found “dubious” reasons to distinguish those cases and the one before them.


The Court in Jabar’s case concluded that the situation in Singapore was markedly different because the death penalty was mandatory here unlike India. In contrast to the position held during Jabar’s case, Singapore’s mandatory death penalty regime had seen changes in 2012 to give discretion to judges in certain circumstances especially drug trafficking cases.Also, the Court in Jabar overlooked the fact that the unambiguous finding by the Indian Supreme Court was that supervening events might render a lawfully and justifiably imposed death sentence unlawful.


We argue that the fact that the sentence is mandatory does not detract from the mental anguish and torment he had to endure as a result of the delay.At this stage, we are not challenging the judicial death penalty sentence itself, but rather to its execution after such an inordinate delay.We place little emphasis on the duration of the delay itself as thismay cause unnecessary controversy in semantics in what is deemed as “unreasonable delay”. It should also not matter also whether it was the accused himself who caused the delay as it would be acceptable for him to take every step conceivable to turn his ill fate around.As a way forward, we wish to emphasise on the actual effects or consequences of the delay in depriving his life and personal liberty.


The Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign and several other local and international human rights groups are working tirelessly to campaign on behalf of Chijioke to halt the execution.The impending execution of Chijioke is clearly unlawful under international law and arguably under Singapore law. We are looking to work closely with our Nigerian counterparts and international community to make a difference.


We call upon the Singapore Government to reconsider its decision and commute the death sentence imposed on Chijioke.



  1. Ravi,

Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign




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