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PHILIPPINES PH should honor treaties vs death penalty, UN body tells Pimentel

April 18, 2017 ·  By Camille Elemia for www.rappler.com

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The United Nations Human Rights Committee calls on the Philippines to take its treaty obligation seriously

TREATY OBLIGATIONS. A United Nations body writes to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, reminding him of the country's treaty obligations against death penalty.

TREATY OBLIGATIONS. A United Nations body writes to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, reminding him of the country’s treaty obligations against death penalty.

MANILA, Philippines – A United Nations body wrote anew to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, warning the Philippines against taking any “retrogressive measures” on the death penalty following the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives.

In a letter to Pimentel, Yuji Iwasawa, chair of the UN Human Rights Committee, expressed the body’s “grave concern” over the bill’s passage.

“The Committee is currently in session in Geneva. It expresses its grave concern at information if has received about the passage of a bill through the Houses of Congress [House of Representatives] to reintroduce the death penalty, for drug-related offenses, in the Philippines. It understands that the Senate will consider this bill soon,” the letter dated March 27 said.

“On behalf of the Committee, I call on the State party [Philippines] to takes its obligation under the ICCPR and the Second Option Protocol seriously and refrain from taking any retrogressive measures, which would only undermine human progress to date,” Iwasawa added.

LETTER. A copy of the letter dated March 27 sent to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

LETTER. A copy of the letter dated March 27 sent to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

The UN official reminded Pimentel that the Philippines ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 2 Optional Protocols, which prohibit the reimposition of the death penalty once the legislation is already revoked.

Article 6 of the ICCPR, which the country ratified in 1986, states that “in those States which have not abolished the death penalty, the sentence of death can only be applied for the most serious crimes.”

Iwasawa added: “Under the same article, once death penalty is abolished, through amending domestic law or acceding to the Second Optional Protocol, States are barred from reintroducing it.”

The Philippines abolished death penalty in 2006 through Republic Act 9346. It agreed to the 2nd protocol in 2007.

In December 2016, the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein wrote a letter to Pimentel and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a key proponent of the death penalty, warning them of international law breach if the bill is passed.

Zeid also said “international law does not permit a State that has ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to denounce it or withdraw from it.”

While the measure was quickly approved by the House on March 2017, it would have a hard time in the Senate, where the bill is not a priority. – Rappler.com

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