Statement of CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit on the Commemoration of the 15th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Death Penalty
The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) is in solidarity with the human rights community in celebrating the 15th year anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty today, 24 June 2021. We celebrate the tremendous efforts of the different stakeholders who made this possible back then, and their continuing efforts to ensure that the death penalty remains abolished today. In recent times, there have been several attempts by the Government to bring back the death penalty believing that it will solve the problem of criminality.
The position of the CHR, however, has always been against the death penalty. It is a State Policy under Article II, Section 11 of the Constitution to value the dignity of every human person and to guarantee respect for human rights. The death penalty, however, violates human dignity and runs counter to the principles of human rights. Thus, we maintain that the death penalty should have no place in a just, civilized and ordered society. We have repeatedly stated that the penalty of death does not deter the commission of crime, such that its reimposition will not give the country any benefit.
More recently, we were able to take part in the hearing on House Bill No. 7814 entitled, “An Act Strengthening Drug Prevention and Control, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 9165, as amended, Otherwise Known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” at the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Senator Ronald Marapon dela Rosa last 25 May 2021. We acknowledge the Senate Committee for extending its invitation to the CHR entitled, “An Act Strengthening Drug Prevention and Control, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 9165, as amended, Otherwise Known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”
The Commission reiterates its position, shared in part by some of the government agencies in attendance at the hearing, that specific proposed provisions in the bill clearly manifest disregard for the rule of law and basic human rights guaranteed by the 1987 Philippine Constitution and enshrined in international human rights laws and principles. In addition, there are provisions that reintroduce the death penalty, which is contrary to our obligations under the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty. We echo the concerns raised by some of the agencies and our partners from civil society to improve on the provisions of the bill. As such, we welcome with great anticipation the creation of the technical working group as mentioned by Senator Dela Rosa and we look forward to participate in their meetings.
We, likewise, remind the Government that it has committed itself to enter into a Technical Cooperation with the United Nations, based on the Human Rights Council Resolution 45/L38 for a “Technical cooperation and capacity-building for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines (A/HRC/45/L.38).” One of the main aspects of the Resolution focuses on human rights-based approaches to drug control, which is not reflected in HB 7814.
Finally, we take note of the concerns of Senator De La Rosa in trying to curb drug trafficking and drug use. However, death penalty is not the solution but rather penal and criminal justice reforms that center on human rights-based approaches, which ensure proper accountability and certainty of punishment, in accordance with existing relevant laws. This should ensure that even those drug traffickers who are already incarcerated will be prevented from continuing with their crimes, The CHR remains at your disposal in ensuring that the proposed measures to address these concerns will be compliant with our commitments under International Human Rights Law, and to the United Nations Technical Cooperation, particularly that these measures apply a human rights-based approach to drug control, and specifically, to keep the death penalty as it currently is—abolished.
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