Statement of Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit on the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty

Statement of Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit on the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines welcomes the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty (A/RES/75/183). The Philippines is one of the 123 UNGA Member States that voted in favor of the resolution on 16 December 2020. There are 38 Member States against the resolution with 24 abstentions.

The Commission recognizes this positive development particularly with the Philippine vote, which signals the government veering away from the reintroduction of the death penalty. The vote is also a visible indication that on this issue the government can change course to correct its position and deliver its commitments as a State Party to international human rights treaties including the Second Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights.

Globally there is a trend towards abolition of the death penalty. Since 2007, UN Member States have called for moratorium on the death penalty and the 2020 UNGA resolution presents an increase of States voting encouragingly for moratorium. [1]

The CHR is resolutely opposed of the death penalty and its reimposition. We are strongly advocating against the death penalty bills tabled in Congress, and we have released advisories and research studies advising government of its treaty obligations. We presented empirical data and evidenced-based findings of capital punishment not having a place in the justice system. [2] International human rights mechanisms such as the UN Treaty Bodies, Special Procedures and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have called the attention of the Philippine government of its position on reintroduction of the death penalty. The June 2020 OHCHR report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines highlighted this concern and recommended the government to reconsider its legislative agenda in light of its human rights obligations. The CHR continues to support these calls from the UN Bodies and has recommended in its interventions in the Human Rights Council to remove death penalty from the legislative agenda of the Philippine government.

The CHR is committed to monitoring the Philippines’ treaty obligations and we remain open to collaborate with the government in working towards a functional, unbiased, efficient justice system that guarantees certainty of punishment for perpetrators and respects the rights of all – defendants, victims and witnesses, through due process and rule of law. ■

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[1] 2007: 104 UN members states, while 54 voted against and 29 abstained; 2008: 106 countries voted in favor, 46 against and 34 abstained; 2010: 109 votes in favor, 41 votes against and 35 abstentions; 2012: 111 states voting in favor, 41 voting against and 34 abstaining; 2014: 117 votes in favor, 37 against, 34 abstentions and five absent; 2016: 117 votes in favor, 40 against, 31 abstentions and five absent; and 2018: 21 votes in favor, 35 against, 32 abstentions and five absent. Data from the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Read more here: http://www.worldcoalition.org/moratorium.html

[2] The Commission’s studies, position papers and other resources are available at:  http://righttolifeph.online/