Death penalty won't solve crime: Branson

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Visiting tycoon cites experience in Europe

Death penalty won't solve crime: Branson 1
English business magnate and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson gives a speech at the ANC's Leadership Forum at Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City, Wednesday. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The death penalty will not solve crime and neither will treating drugs dependents as criminals solve the drug scourge, billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson said on Wednesday.

Branson, who is in Manila for ANC's leadership forum, is an active human rights campaigner and most recently joined the board of global watchdog group Amnesty International.

"The death penalty is not a deterrent. Europe has become a more civilized continent since the abolishment of the death penalty," Branson said.

Locking criminals up for life instead of executing them would prove cheaper, given the lengthier legal process before an execution is carried out, he said.

Branson said he would rather that a drug dependent get help than get arrested by police.

"The war on drugs has been a complete failure," he said, adding that countries which are "repressive" against drug dependents were losing their fight against drugs.

The country’s new President, Rodrigo Duterte, won the May 9 elections with a promise to fight crime and corruption.

Duterte wants Congress to restore capital punishment, especially for heinous crimes. He has also singled out drug abuse as the root of the country's crime problem.

READ: Duterte wants death penalty restored

Former President Gloria Arroyo signed a law repealing capital punishment in 2006, just before she flew to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and as she grappled with waning public support due to an election fraud scandal.