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​CHR stands firmly against reimposition of death penalty

Graphic: CHR logo and statement

The Commission has said that the Philippines "must stop its spiral into such a regressive and illegal policy".

The Commission on Human Rights stands firm in its position against the reintroduction of the death penalty in the Philippines.

Alarmed by the passage of House Bill No. 4727 on third reading that seeks to reimpose death penalty, the Commission urges legislators to heed the legal assertions in the study that it conducted with international law expert Dr. Christopher Ward SC, Senior Counsel at the New South Wales Bar and Honorary Professor at the Australian National University.

The study – In Defense of the Right to Life: International Law and Death Penalty in the Philippines – clarifies that the Philippines has exercised its sovereignty to become party to international treaties which absolutely prohibit the reintroduction of the death penalty by the Philippines.

The study considers the Philippines' Constitution, international law, state practice and domestic jurisprudence and concludes that it is not permissible for the Philippines to withdraw from those treaties. Neither is there any ability for the Philippines to raise constitutional provisions as arguments against the validity or interpretation of those treaties.

In view of the absolute nature of these treaties, enactment of the current legislative measure is a blatant breach of international law and constitutes an internationally wrongful act subject to international responsibility.

In addition to the absolute prohibition against the death penalty that the Philippines agreed to in the exercise of its sovereignty, the proposed laws breach international law because they apply to crimes that are not "the most serious crimes" within the meaning of article 6 of the ICCPR.

The "most serious crimes" shall be read restrictively and shall be limited to the crimes that, as qualified by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United Nations Economic and Social Council, "do not go beyond intentional crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences." Jurisprudence on most serious crimes does not include narcotics crimes.

The Commission believes that the global momentum on the abolition of the death penalty will continue and that the Philippines, in this regard, must stop its spiral into such a regressive and illegal policy.

Source: Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

Date: 7 March 2017

Image credits

  1. CHR logo and statement - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines