Int’l jurists oppose death penalty bill
BANGKOK—The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) urged the Philippine Congress on Friday to bring a halt to the government’s attempt to bring back capital punishment.
The Congress’ attempt to restore this heinous practice is in blatant breach of its international legal obligations, the ICJ said.
The ICJ condemned the approval on second reading of a bill to restore the death penalty by the House of Representatives on March 1 and called on legislators to vigorously oppose it and prevent it from being passed on final reading.
If adopted, the legislation will place the Philippines at odds with its legal obligation under international treaties to which it is party, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its second, Optional Protocol aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
The ICJ also expressed concern at the manner in which the bill was effectively railroaded this week when the House passed on second reading House Bill No. 4727, which seeks to reintroduce the death penalty for drug-related crimes.
House Bill 4727 will be put to a final vote on third reading next week. Nominal voting will be done on the third reading of the bill.
To marshal enough support for the bill, prodeath penalty legislators struck off all other crimes that were proposed in the original bill to be punishable by death, such as plunder, treason and rape.
As it stands now, House Bill 4727 imposes capital punishment only on commission of drug-related crimes. Proponents of the bill claim that this is to support the President’s “war on drugs.”
The controversial measure was approved only eight session days after it reached the plenary for debates on Feb. 1.
“It is obvious that proponents of state killing as means of ‘justice’ were intent on rushing the passage of the death penalty bill by thwarting any substantial discussion thereon and by pressuring into silence those who oppose it,” said Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s senior international legal adviser for Southeast Asia.
A similar bill proposing to bring back the death penalty has been filed at the Senate. The Senate committee on justice and human rights conducted the first hearing on the bill last Feb. 7.
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