We Oppose the Death Penalty, Call for Justice Reform
February 23, 2017
We, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), the largest network of development civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Philippines, oppose the proposed reinstatement of the death penalty in the country.
In CODE-NGO’s Philippine Development Covenant, we declared our commitment to protect and promote fundamental freedoms and human rights. We oppose the death penalty in order to safeguard the fundamental right to life.
We are profoundly alarmed by the strong position of leaders of the Administration and the House of Representatives to restore death penalty. The restoration of the death penalty goes against humanitarian law and respect for life.
The death penalty violates every Filipino’s right to equality and non-discrimination. It denounces mostly poor people to die. The experience in other countries which impose death penalty have demonstrated numerous cases against the poor and marginalized individuals. Based on statistical review, many of the victims of the capital punishment – including innocents – were not able to afford good lawyers; instead they just relied on the limited legal assistance provided by public lawyers. The poor quality of our law enforcement and judicial systems at present would also result to many unjust sentences, particularly affecting the poor and defenseless.
In addition, the death penalty denies convicted persons the opportunity to reform and change their lives. It does not provide them a second chance to transform their lives.
It is contrary to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which the Philippines is a signatory. Our international commitment to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR does not allow us to reinstate the death penalty. Any action against this will be a violation of international law and will be taken against us.
Killing people through the capital punishment does not thwart crimes. Many scientific studies conducted by institutions such as Amnesty International and Death Penalty Information Center have shown that there is no correlation between capital punishment and the deterrence of violent crimes.
We strongly declare that what we need to focus on is the reform of the law enforcement and justice systems arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of crimes. We need to implement effective measures to create an environment of public security and peace.
We call on President Rodrigo Duterte and the leaders of Congress to withdraw their support for the reinstatement of the death penalty in the country. We also call on the Philippine National Police and the Judiciary to develop and implement effective measures to reform and strengthen the law enforcement and justice systems of our country.