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AA.VV. - 11 ottobre 1992
PHILIPPINES: PARLIAMENTARIAN DEBATE ABOUT DEATH PENALTY

ABSTRACT: Philippine Parliament is going to discuss, starting from tomorrow, about the reintroduction of death penalty in the legal system of the state. 70 among the Italian MPs (belonging to every Political Groups, except for MSI) have sent the following letter to the Speaker of Philippine's Lower House, Rep. José de Venecia, and to the President of Senate, Neptali Gonzalez

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October 11th, 1992

»We are writing to You as members of the Italian Parliament.

We wish to respectfully express our concern at the move towards reintroducing the death penalty in Your country. We know that the Committee of Justice of the Lower House of the Philippines is prepared to move very quickly now to submit their report on the proposal to reinstate the death penalty.

We welcomed the constitutional abolition of the death penalty by Your country in 1987 as a hellmark of the democratic reforms in the Philippines and as an example to other countries in the region. The Government's more recent support for the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Poltitical Rights, which aims to achieve abolition of the death penalty throughout the world, further demonstrated the serious committement the Philippines Government has given to endeavouring to uphold and protect the human rights of its citizens.

Today nearly half the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Many countries have taken this step in explicit recognition that the death penalty is incompatible with respect for foundamental human rights. Other countries are moving towards total abolition by restricting the scope of the death penalty. Contrary to this global trend, the Philippines Government is considering the reintroduction oh the death penalty: we believe that to restore this most cruel and inhumanm form of punishment would represent a retrogressive step for human rights in Your country.

We are aware that recently public opinion in the Philippines has been understandably outraged by a series of kidnapping, murders and other serious crimes: following a wawe of particularly horrific crimes such as this, and subsequent public desquiet, it is not a uncommon for Governments to respond by raising the banner of the death penalty as a signal that something is being done. While we recognize the need for effective measures to fight crime, we do not believe the death penalty serves this purpose.

As You certainly know, there is no scientific proof that the death penalty is in fact a more effective deterrent to crime than other form of punishment. In reviewing the evidence relating to the changes in the use of the death penalty and crime rates, the report on death penalty prepared for the United Nations Committe on Crime Prevention and Control in 1988 stated that, although no definite conclusions could be drawn about the impact of changes in the death penalty alone, nevertheless "the fact that all the evidence continues to point in the same dirtection is persuasive a priori evidence that countires need not fear sudden and serious changes in the curve of crime if they reduce their reliance upon the death penalty".

Apart from its lack of any demonstrated unique deterrent effect, the death penalty is qualitatively different from other forms of punishment in that it is irrevocable. Inevitably this finality must raise questions as to the ability of a criminal justice system to select consistently and fairly who should live and who should die. In practice, no system has shown itself able to do this. Expirience demonstrates that the risk of miscarriage of justice and the execution of innocent people is inherent in the use of the death penalty. In a report entiteled "Philippines: case studies in the use of the death penalty", Amnesty International documented cases of innocent people sentenced to death, and at least one case of a prisoner who may have been innocent who was executed.

Were the death penalty to be reintroduced, this inescapable and unacceptable risk of executing the innocent would also be reintroduced.

Its our hope that Philippines Government will display moral leadership and arrive at the conclusion already reached by many Governments, and previously in the Philippines, that the death penalty is neither an effective nor a useful form of punishment and must not be encouraged in a country dedicated to the preservation of human rights.

Yours sincerely

 
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