International group of jurists warns that reinstating death penalty is a ‘huge setback’

  • An international group of jurists warns that the reinstatement of the death penalty is a “huge setback”
  • The International Commission of Jurists urged President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to honor PH commitments not to resort to the death penalty
  • The Philippines abolished the use of the death penalty in 2006

An international group of legal experts urged President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to think twice about his plan to reinstate the death penalty, saying it would only be a “huge setback” for the country.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), based in Geneva in Switzerland, reminded Duterte that the Philippines had entered into “international commitments” to end the use of the death penalty.

“Reinstating capital punishment in the Philippines would constitute a huge setback not only for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country, but also for the Philippines internationally. Reinstating the death penalty would contravene international commitments that the Philippines has voluntarily entered into,” wrote ICJ Asia and the Pacific regional director Sam Zarifi in an open letter addressed to Duterte, as previously quoted by GMA News.

The Philippines, through Republic Act 9346, has officially abolished the practice of death penalty since 2006.

It is currently the only member-state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ratify the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits signatory nations to carry out executions under its jurisdiction.

“The resumption of executions in the Philippines would therefore constitute a violation of international law and represent an alarming disregard for the international human rights system,” the ICJ said.

States that have signed the protocol are not allowed to withdraw from their obligations unless other member-states agree, since the international agreement has no provision for renunciation.

In addition, the ICJ says any move to reinstate the death penalty would put the Philippines at odds with the ongoing call of the United Nations (UN) for the global abolition of capital punishment.

“We therefore hope that, under your presidency, the same strength of leadership can be applied in maintaining the current prohibition of the death penalty, and instead preventing crime in a manner that conforms to international human rights law and standards,” the group wrote.