Defending the Right to Life: International Law and Death Penalty in the Philippines

On 24 June 2006, the Philippines abolished the death penalty for all crimes within Philippine jurisdiction when Republic Act No. 9346 was enacted. A year later, the Philippines ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR). In doing so, the Philippines decided to absolutely and permanently abolish the death penalty.

Yet on 30 June 2016, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro introduced House Bill No. 4272 into the House of Representatives. The proposed Bill reimposes the death penalty for drug-related offenses, including, amongst other acts, the importation, sale, trading, delivery, or distribution of dangerous drugs, and authorises hanging, firing squad, and lethal injections as modes of execution. On 7 March 2017, the House of Representatives passed the Bill by 217 votes to 54.

This paper, authored by Dr Christopher Ward in collaboration with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, argues that, in light of the Philippines’ obligations under customary international law and other international treaties, notably the ICCPR and its Second Optional Protocol, the Senate should not pass this Bill.

The report is published here with the permission of Dr Christopher Ward (President of ILA Australian Branch).