Amnesty Int'l condemns House approval of death penalty


Posted at Mar 07 2017 09:22 PM

Members of the Philippine Congress attend the third and final reading of the death penalty bill inside the House of the Representatives in Quezon city, metro Manila, Philippines on Tuesday. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Human rights group Amnesty International (AI) condemned the approval of the death penalty bill by the House of Representatives.

"The vote is a shame and an affront to our history as a strong nation leading in the human rights discourse," said AI Philippines chairperson Ritz Lee Santos in a statement.

AI reiterated its position that "the death penalty is not a solution to the severe challenge posed by criminality in the Philippines."

"The frustration and fear felt by many Filipinos because of high rates of crime deserves a genuine answer, not a short-term placebo solution offered through the death penalty as a means of retribution," said Santos. 

Instead of reinstating capital punishment, the group said lawmakers should have worked to strengthen the country's justice system.

"The time allotted for the deliberations in the lower house should've been used instead by Congress to confront the institutional weaknesses notably within the police and judiciary that help contribute to high crime rates," explained Santos.

"It is the certainty of arrest, conviction and imprisonment, not the threat of execution alone, which acts as deterrent against crime," said Santos.

The human rights group said the death penalty is a violation of the right to life, as acclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

AI criticized President Duterte in its 2016 global report, listing him among world leaders "wielding a toxic agenda that hounds scapegoats, and dehumanizes entire groups of people."