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 Khashoggi verdict is exactly what impunity looks like. It must be denounced.

December 24, 2019, Agnes Callamard, Opinions, Washington Post

Agnes Callamard is the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and director of Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University.

On Monday, the Saudi public prosecutor announced that five people had been sentenced to death for last year’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, while three others were sentenced to jail. Notably, the prosecutor also revealed that his office had investigated two top advisers to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Assiri — but cleared them because of “insufficient evidence.”

These verdicts are the antithesis of justice: the hit men are sentenced to death, potentially permanently silencing key witnesses, but the apparent masterminds walk free — barely touched by the investigation and trial. This is exactly what impunity looks like, and it must be denounced. Anyone who cares about freedom of the press — governments, as well as members of the public — must denounce this travesty until an actual impartial investigation holds those at the highest level responsible.

To this point, the Saudi investigation and trial have been grossly inadequate, failing to meet even minimal international standards. Under international human rights law, the murder of Khashoggi, a Post contributing columnist, was an extrajudicial execution for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible. Yet at no point did the investigation or trial consider the responsibilities of the state.

The execution of Khashoggi demands an investigation into the chain of command to identify the masterminds as well as those who incited, allowed or turned a blind eye to the murder, potentially up to Mohammed bin Salman himself. Such an investigation has not taken place. The proceedings so far have also neglected to address the cleanup of the murder scene by 18 Saudi officials at the consulate in Istanbul over more than 10 days. This itself constituted obstruction of justice and a violation of the Minnesota Protocol for the investigation of arbitrary killings. All of this was then compounded by holding the trial behind closed doors, even though there was no justification for doing so under international law.

It is worth noting that, in other cases, the Saudi government has chosen to publicize charges against human rights activists. Its improper secrecy on this occasion thus raises serious questions.

The court’s verdict itself makes little sense, given the evidence. It appears to have determined either that the killing was an accident or was planned at the last minute by team leaders on site once they determined they could not kidnap Khashoggi alive. But the evidence clearly shows that his killing was no accident: dismemberment requires planning. The forensic doctor was recruited at least 24 hours before the crime, and that dismemberment was discussed before it actually occurred.

It beggars belief to claim that these five men, now sentenced to death, decided on their own, once in Turkey, to kill a prominent journalist without seeking direction or informing their superiors in Riyadh. Indeed, the defendants themselves repeatedly stated that they were obeying orders. According to my sources, even the Saudi prosecutor had argued that the killing was premeditated. Nonetheless, the crown prince argues, against all the evidence, that this was either an accident or the actions of rogue players. It is no surprise that the judge decided to follow his lead.

As detailed in my report, however, there is credible evidence, warranting further criminal investigation, of the involvement of top Saudi officials, including Qahtani and Mohammed bin Salman. The prosecutor publicly stated that Qahtani had demanded the abduction of Khashoggi on the grounds that he was a threat to national security. The consul general allowed his office to become a crime scene, knowing, at minimum, that kidnapping was intended. He also took all necessary precautions to ensure that there would be no eyewitnesses. The state then appears to have attempted to hide the murder, engaging in what amounted to a state-sponsored cleanup of the crime scene. None of these actions suggests a state committed to justice, to protecting the lives of its citizens, or ensuring that such murders or attempted renditions never occur again.

Impunity for the killing of a journalist commonly reveals underlying political repression, corruption, abuse of power, propaganda and even international complicity. All are present here.

This trial could not have been held in secret without the complicity of governments who attended and agreed to secrecy. Judging by their participation in several recent events hosted by the kingdom, it is clear that the government officials, chief executives and investors are hoping to move on, given the wealth and geopolitical prominence of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi verdict may offer them a fig leaf for their complicity. But there has been no justice. The government of Saudi Arabia should not be excused from holding a proper investigation and impartial trial. If it continues to fail to do so, other governments should act in its stead. They should investigate whether criminal prosecutions can occur within their nations. A standing mechanism should be established within the United Nations to make possible investigations of murders such as these.

At a bare minimum, Saudi Arabia should not be rewarded with diplomatic visits, or allowed to host international events such as the Group of 20 summit, until true justice has been achieved. The public should continue to demand that their national leaders seek justice from Saudi Arabia.

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