IHR holds a Roundtable Discussion on the Philippines’ Obligations on the Death Penalty Under the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR

_DSC0167 (1)The University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights, in partnership with the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, held a round table discussion on the Philippine obligations on the death penalty under the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR and effective measures for countering crimes through strengthening the rule of law and the justice system. The forum was held last February 13, 2017 at Microtel by Wyndham - UP Ayala Technohub, Diliman, Quezon City.

In her Opening Remarks, IHR Director, Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan stressed that challenging the death penalty is not an internal issue and that there is global consensus already established against its (re)imposition. International experts were invited to provide their insights on the Philippines’ obligations on the death penalty under international law, particularly in the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The international experts were Baron Marc Bossuyt, Professor of International Law at the University of Antwerp and former Chairman of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Justice Konstantine Vardzelashvili of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, and Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, who was Thailand’s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

The speakers emphasized that the Philippines will be violating its international law obligations if it passes a law that reimposes the death penalty. As a signatory to both the ICCPR and its Second Optional Protocol, the Philippines has obligated itself not only to abolish the death penalty which was then existing, but also to prevent its future reimposition. Professor Bossuyt pointed out the lack of a renunciation clause in the Second Optional Protocol, which emphasizes the design of the treaty where a signatory is not permitted to renege on its obligation after abolishing the death penalty in its jurisdiction. If the Philippines violates this international obligation, then it will lose its credibility as a reliable treaty partner and will not be a country in good standing in international relations, the experts stressed. Notably, the Philippines will be the first country to violate its obligation under the Second Optional Protocol if it passes the death penalty law.

Among the participants were Congressmen Edcel Lagman and Raul Daza, and the legislative staff and chiefs of staff of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.