Philippine Standard Time
Monday, June 10, 2019, 2:18:54AM

In Defense of the Right to Life: International Law and Death Penalty in the Philippines

A study by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and Dr. Christopher Ward, SC, Australian Bar, Adjunct Professor, Australian National University


Virginia Becomes First Southern State to Abolish the Death Penalty
The New York Times |, March 24, 2021
Death penalty debate reemerges in Nevada after past stalls
Fox 5 (Las Vegas) |, March 24, 2021
Virginia becomes first state in US south to abolish death penalty
ALJAZEERA |, March 24, 2021
Abolish the federal death penalty
Chicago Sun-times |, March 01, 2021
Family members of murder victims speak out against the death penalty
KPVI News 6 |, March 01, 2021
Bill To Repeal Death Penalty Filed In Wyoming Legislature
Kgab |, March 01, 2021
State Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty
Newsradio 1140 WRVA |, February 04, 2021
Trump administration carries out 13th, final federal execution
Aljazeera |, January 16, 2021
A federal judge has granted a stay of execution for the only woman on federal death row pending a competency hearing
CNN |, January 12, 2021
Asian Nations Reject UN Vote Against Death Penalty
Human Rights Watch |, November 24, 2020
Holy See: ‘Death penalty the most shocking thing in the world
Vatican News |, October 10, 2020
Tunisia president calls for return of death penalty following brutal killing
The Guardian |, October 01, 2020
Kazakhstan takes important step towards abolishing death penalty
Amnesty Internatonal |, September 24, 2020
US Bishops stress opposition to death penalty
Independent Catholic News |, September 23, 2020
‘Travesty of justice’: Reaction to execution of Iranian wrestler
Aljazeera |, September 14, 2020
Unpacking public opinion on the death penalty
Asia Pacific Forum |, July 28, 2020
The Florida Supreme Court’s U-turn on the death penalty
Tampa Bay Times |, May 28, 2020
Man sentenced to death in Singapore via Zoom
BBC News |, May 20, 2020
Saudi Arabia ends death penalty for crimes committed by minors
The Guardian |, April 27, 2020
Catholic leaders praise abolition of death penalty in Colorado
CRUX |, March 25, 2020
Colorado Abolishes Death Penalty and Commutes Sentences of Death Row Inmates
The New York Times |, March 23, 2020
UK urged to act over men facing death in Egypt for alleged childhood crimes
The Guardian |, March 08, 2020
Berlin International Film Festival: Iranian film about executions wins top prize
BBC |, February 29, 2020
Trump condemned after claiming very powerful death penalty would reduce drug dealing
The Independent |, February 11, 2020
Outsourcing injustice: Guantanamo on the Euphrates
Al Jazeera News |, February 04, 2020
British Isis prisoners may end up in Iraq, where death sentences are handed down without due process
Independent |, February 02, 2020
Saudi Arabia executed record number of prisoners in 2019: Report
ABC News |, January 14, 2020
Death Sentence Overturned for Pervez Musharraf, Ex-Leader of Pakistan
The New York Times |, January 13, 2020
Japan executes foreigner for first time in a decade
Independent |, December 26, 2019
The Khashoggi verdict is exactly what impunity looks like. It must be denounced.
Agnes Callamard, Opinions, Washington Post |, December 24, 2019
5 foreigners in drug case could face death in Indonesia |, December 18, 2019
Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan ex-leader sentenced to death for treason
BBC News |, December 17, 2019
Botswana urged to abolish death penalty after latest execution
The Guardian |, December 09, 2019
I Oversaw Executions. We Cannot Resume the Federal Death Penalty
New York Times |, December 04, 2019
Americans Now Support Life in Prison Over Death Penalty
Gallup News |, November 25, 2019
UN criticizes Irans use of death penalty against minors
DW |, October 24, 2019
The Death Penalty for Drugs: What Public Opinion Surveys in Asia Teach Us
Giada Girelli, Filter Mag |, October 17, 2019
Malaysia: Unfair trials, secretive hangings and petty drug convictions reveal ‘cruel injustice’ of the death penalty
Amnesty International |, October 10, 2019
Against the death penalty: barrister Julian McMahon
ABC Radio |, July 25, 2019
Malaysia’s repeal of death penalty opens deep wounds, including that of Mongolian model murder
The Independent|, July 09, 2019
Why is Sri Lanka reinstating death penalty?
DW|, July 07, 2019
Debate on death penalty not very vigorous 1 year after Aum executions
Japan Today|, July 06, 2019
Prosecutor won’t seek death penalty in death of grandmother
News 4 Tucson|, July 06, 2019
SC issues Interim Order against death penalty
Daily FT|, July 06, 2019
Latter-day Saint Church defends involvement in death penalty case
Fox13 Salt Lake City|, July 06, 2019
Death penalty debate remains muted in Japan 1 year after AUM executions
Kyodo News|, July 05, 2019
Source: Govt will not table Bill to abolish death penalty this Parliament meeting
The Star|, July 05, 2019
The murder was caught on surveillance video. The accused now faces death if convicted
Miami Herald|, July 05, 2019
Sri Lanka- Supreme Court issues interim order against death penalty
MenaFN|, July 05, 2019
Jury to consider death penalty in Chinese scholar killing
Federal News Network|, July 05, 2019
As Malaysia eyes death penalty repeal, Al Jazeera documentary explores dilemma of capital punishment
Malay Mail|, July 04, 2019
Kentucky judge declares death penalty protocol unconstitutional
Crux Now|, July 04, 2019
Jose Martinez, The Hit Man Who Confessed To Killing Three Dozen People, Avoids The Death Penalty
BuzzFeed News|, July 03, 2019
Merced County DA is seeking the death penalty. And it could get costly, experts say
The Merced Sunstar|, July 03, 2019
Activists Hold Annual Fast Outside Supreme Court to Protest Death Penalty
Spektrum News|, July 02, 2019
Kentucky judge declares states death penalty protocol unconstitutional
The Courier Journal|, July 02, 2019
Lawmakers vote to substantially limit Oregon’s death penalty
Oregon Live|, June 29, 2019
Abolish the Death Penalty?
New York Times|, June 22, 2019
The Intercept|, June 18, 2019
In Los Angeles, only people of color are sentenced to death
The Guardian|, June 18, 2019
Debunking the Court’s Latest Death-Penalty Obsession
The Atlantic|, June 17, 2019
Poll finds Californians support the death penalty — and Newsom’s moratorium on executions
The LA Times|, June 17, 2019
Using Saudi death penalty vs. children is barbaric
CNN|, June 17, 2019
Reader reluctantly accepts governor’s death penalty moratorium
The LA Times|, June 14, 2019
Saudi Teenager Faces Death Sentence for Acts When He Was 10
New York Times|, June 09, 2019
GOP Lawmakers Are Quietly Turning Against the Death Penalty
The Atlantic|, June 07, 2019
Death knell: taking a stand to abolish capital punishment
Monash University |, February 26, 2019
Germany abolishes death penalty in public vote
Independent |, November 21, 2018
Pope Francis: ‘death penalty inadmissable’
Vatican News |, August 02, 2018
One Test Could Exonerate Him. Why Wont California Do It?
The New York Times|, May 17, 2018

World News

The Florida Supreme Court’s U-turn on the death penalty

May 28, 2020, Tampa Bay Times

What’s the obsession at the Florida Supreme Court with becoming an outlier on the death penalty, with reversing established law and shaking public confidence in the state’s judicial system? A recent decision by the court, which overturned protections for death row inmates with intellectual disabilities, is only the latest sign of judicial activism out of control, out of sync with the times and out of keeping with the tradition of restraint and following court precedent.

In a case this month, the court ruled 4-1 against Harry Franklin Phillips, who for years has sought to set aside his death sentence for the murder of Bjorn Thomas Svenson, a parole supervisor, in Miami in August 1982. Phillips has argued he cannot be executed because he is intellectually disabled, which the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2002, outlawed as “cruel and unusual punishment.” Phillips wanted his claim reconsidered in light of a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2014 that expanded the basis of disability findings, and under a 2016 decision by the Florida Supreme Court that applied those looser standards retroactively.

At issue was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hall v. Florida in 2014, which struck down a state law that set an IQ test score of 70 as the maximum threshold for a defendant to present evidence of his intellectual disability. The court found that Florida’s “rigid rule” was not “proper or humane,” out of line with most states and the test’s designers themselves. It held that defendants whose IQ fell within the test’s range of error, or about 5 points, “must be able to present additional evidence of intellectual disability.” In 2016, the Florida Supreme Court found the Hall decision significant enough to apply it retroactively to cases where disability claims had been rejected. Phillips had presented IQ scores in 2006 of 70, 74, and 75.

But the reworked Florida Supreme Court reversed the decision this month, ruling it had erred in 2016 because the IQ threshold was a minor issue. The majority characterized the higher test score as a “procedural” matter. And conveniently, it cited the dissent that Chief Justice Charles Canady wrote on the losing side in 2016, warning that retroactivity posed "the ongoing threat of major disruption to (the) application of the death penalty.”

Canady was joined by Justice Ricky Polston, another on the losing end then, in settling this score. Beyond whipsawing established court precedent, the decision sends a chilling message about the high court’s conscience in handling the most severe punishment society metes out. And it completely ignores the U.S. Supreme Court’s entire point for holding that the intellectually disabled must be given some consideration in presenting their defense.

The court’s lurch to the right on death penalty cases and its easy willingness to jettison legal precedent is bad policy for Florida and bad practice for the courts. In January, the court reversed a previous decision that required unanimous jury recommendations in death penalty sentences. (In response, the Legislature amended the state’s capital sentencing laws in 2017 requiring jury unanimity.)

This eagerness to overturn precedent set by a more moderate court is unlikely to change. Gov. Ron DeSantis named two new justices Tuesday to fill vacancies created when his two previous appointments moved to federal court appointments. John Couriel and Renatha Francis have both been affiliated with the Federalist Society, the conservative-libertarian organization that promotes a “textualist" interpretation of the law - the so-called plain meaning of legal documents. Couriel has no judicial experience; Francis has been a trial court judge for three years and must wait until September to join the bench because she has not been an attorney for 10 years. The court’s assault against precedent might only be starting, and the appointments are another reminder of that elections have consequences.

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