[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide----GHANA, CHINA, PHILIPPINES
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jan 9 12:50:37 CST 2009
Death sentences commuted in Ghana time for abolition
The outgoing President of Ghana, John Kufuor, commuted all death sentences
in the country. Amnesty International welcomed the action and urged the
new President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, to seize the moment and take
immediate steps to abolish the death penalty in law.
Several influential figures in Ghana have, in recent years, voiced their
opposition to the death penalty, including the former Minister of Justice
and Attorney General who is reported to have said in 2007 that the death
penalty has no deterrent effect.
In meetings with Amnesty International in April 2008, the former Minister
of Justice, as well as members of Parliament, underlined the need for a
debate around death penalty in Ghana. While no death row prisoner has been
executed since 1993, the death penalty continues to be in the statute
books and death sentences continue to be imposed.
In 2008, 3 people were sentenced to death and approximately 105 prisoners
were on death row, including 3 women.
As of today, 138 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in
practice. The continent of Africa is largely free of executions, with only
seven of the 53 African Union member states known to have carried out
executions in 2007: Botswana, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Libya,
Somalia and Sudan.
Amnesty International made the abolition of the death penalty on of the
key points in a seven point human rights agenda for the new President.
(source: Amnesty International)
China has arrested 60 over tainted milk scandal: police
China said on Friday it had arrested a total of 60 people in the tainted
milk scandal that led to the deaths of at least 6 children and sickened
nearly 300,000 others.
Police had arrested them for "producing or selling toxic and harmful food
products," China's Ministry of Public Security said on its website, as it
summarised actions taken since the scandal erupted in September last year.
It did not give details on who the 60 people were.
So far, 21 people have stood trial over the safety scare, including the
former boss of Sanlu, the dairy company at the heart of the scandal.
The verdicts have yet to be announced, but some of the defendants could
reportedly face the death penalty.
22 companies in China were found to have sold milk contaminated with the
industrial chemical melamine, which is normally used to make plastic,
prompting worldwide recalls of Chinese dairy products.
The melamine was mixed into the milk to give the appearance of higher
Nograles to support death penalty bill once it passes committee level
House Speaker Prospero Nograles on Friday said he would support moves to
revive the death penalty for drug traffickers, if the pending bill seeking
the reimposition of the death penalty would pass the committee level.
In a text message sent to GMANews.TV, Nograles said he will go by the
decision of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs regarding the revival
of the repealed penalty.
"If it's endorsed by the committee, then I will support it as the
Speaker," Nograles said.
Dangerous Drugs Committee chair Rep. Roque Ablan Jr. on Thursday said
there is already a pending bill which seeks to revive the death penalty,
although another one seeking its re-imposition will be filed by Muntinlupa
City Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon on Monday.
2 lawmakers frown on revival of death penalty
Reps. Roil Golez and Eduardo Zialcita, both of Paraaque, rejected on
Friday calls to revive the death penalty, saying that such would only lead
to more bribery attempts by wealthy drug suspects.
"A harsh death penalty will just increase pressure for wealthy respondents
to corrupt the pillars of justice from law enforcement to correction,"
Golez said in a text message to reporters.
Golez, who's the House senior deputy minority leader, is a member of the
pro-life bloc in the House.
The lawmaker instead batted for life imprisonment, which he said is
"punitive enough" but gives criminals a chance to reform.
Golez added that poor offenders "would just end up clogging the death
row," while wealthy drug suspects would have a bigger chance of evading
Likewise, Zialcita said said a law legalizing execution as punishment for
drug traffickers would be useless if government prosecutors keep on
dropping cases against suspects.
"The problem is not the law, it's the enforcement," Zialcita said in a
telephone interview with GMANews.TV. "If the prosecutors and the fiscals
keep on dropping the cases, what's the use?"
Zialcita also believes execution will not be a deterrent against the
commission of crimes.
The lawmakers' statements came amid calls from the Dangerous Drugs Board
(DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to revive the
death penalty following the "Alabang Boys" controversy, in which the three
scions of wealthy families allegedly bribed Department of Justice (DOJ)
and PDEA officials into letting the three drug suspects get away.
In a Dec. 2 resolution, state prosecutor John Resado dismissed the case
against the three drug suspects Richard Brodett, Jorge Jordana Joseph,
and Joseph Tecson.
In an interview over radio dzBB, however, DDB chair Vicente "Tito" Sotto
III maintained that the death penalty is not anti-poor and that it would
deter crime by preventing imprisoned drug dealers from continuing their
Sotto said life imprisonment would be harder on poor prisoners who are
treated harshly. IN contrast, imprisoned rich drug dealers would continue
drug operations while living in relative comfort.
"Ang tingin ko yung life imprisonment ang anti-poor, kasi pag life
imprisonment at walang death penalty, itong kababayan natin mahihirap na
nakakulong garantisadong utusan, tagalinis ng banyo, ginugulpi,
taga-masahe ng mga mayor. Pero yung mga mayayaman na drug dealer doon may
ref, cellphone, at hanggang ngayon nag-o-operate," Sotto said.
[I think life imprisonment is anti-poor because our poor prisoners are
treated as errand boys, they're ordered to clean bathrooms, they're beaten
up and made to massage jail wardens. By contrast, rich drug dealers in
prison have refrigerators, cellphones, and up to now they still operate.]
According to Sotto, DDB has information that drug dealers now detained at
the Quezon City Jail are still operating He added that executing drug
dealers would inhibit them from committing the same crime again.
"Naniniwala ako na tama, yung iba merong pagkakataon, dapat bigyan ng
pagkakataon, magbago, pero depende sa krimen. Kasi itong problema ng drug
trafficking, lalo na yung malalaking drug dealer na tinatawag, hindi na
magbabago yung mga yon lalo na pag nakatikim ng ganon kalaking pera,"
[I believe that it's right to give convicts a chance, but it depends on
the crime. The problem with drug trafficking, particularly with large drug
dealers, is that they don't change, especially if they've made huge
amounts of money through the trade.]
Bills reviving the death penalty are currently pending in both chambers of
Congress on filed by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and
another by Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan Jr., who is chairman of the
Dangerous Drugs Committee.
On Thursday, Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon said he would also
file next week a bill that will reimpose the death penalty.
(source for both: GMA News)
Still no to death penalty--clergy
The Catholic Church will not support calls to revive the death penalty for
drug traffickers in the wake of allegations of bribery on justice
officials and anti-narcotics agents involving 3 drug suspects from
Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales said although the revival of the law
would depend on lawmakers, the Church firmly stood in the Catholic
commandment "thou shall not kill."
"Let them decide but the position of the Church is this: thou shall not
kill. Therefore, if a person commits an error or a crime, there's such a
thing as Christian forgiveness," said Rosales.
The calls to revive the death penalty stemmed from allegations that
emissaries form Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph, and Joseph Tecson had tried
to bribe officials from the Department of Justice and the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in exchange for dropping the case against the 3.
Brodett, Joseph, and Tecson were arrested in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa and
Araneta Center in Quezon City in September.
Major Ferdinand Marcelino, who headed the buy-bust operation, admitted
before the House of Representatives of the bribery attempts.
"Jesus forgives and that's it," said Rosales.
Rosales said even if a person committed a crime, the mistake could not be
corrected by the penalty of death.
He said a good option against criminals would be to have him or her serve
the offended party and allow that person to be a good citizen.
Death penalty bill revived at Senate
A bill reimposing the death penalty is being revived at the Senate by its
author, Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The measure is known as Senate Bill 2322 known as "An Act Reimposing the
Penalty of Death on Certain Heinous Crimes Amending for the Purpose
Certain Sections of the Revised Penal Code as Amended for Other Purposes."
But Senators Manuel "Mar" Roxas and Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan opposed the
return of capital punishment.
Roxas said the revival of the issue was a "knee-jerk reaction" to the
"Our problem is not in the punishment. Our problem is in apprehension,
prosecution, and justice system. Even if you push for death penalty, that
is not a deterrent because these criminals are not caught and even if they
are, there are justice officials who intervene so that they can be freed.
Justice can be bought in our country," Roxas said in Filipino.
"So para sa akin, hindi importante yang death penalty [So, as far as I'm
concerned, death penalty isnt important]. Ang makakatulong sa drugs at sa
iba pang problema sa justice system is an effective and efficient judicial
system [What can help the fight against drugs and other problems in the
justice system is an effective and efficient judicial system]," he said.
Roxas doubts if a measure proposing a return of the capital punishment
could get the support from the Senate.
Pangilinan also opposed the proposal, saying that reimposing the death
penalty would not solve the problem of drug trafficking in the country.
"It isn't the harshness or severity of punishment but the certainty of
punishment that will make would be criminals think twice before committing
illegal acts," Pangilinan said in a statement.
"Besides, if we impose the death penalty in a system that is vulnerable to
bribery and corruption then we increase chances of putting to death the
innocent while the guilty go scot-free, thanks to bribery and corruption,"
The senator then saw the need for a strong institutional response from the
"We need sweeping reforms in the justice system and we need them now. We
should begin by increasing the budget of the judiciary and the justice
department particularly the national prosecution service," he further
(source for both: Philippine Inquirer)
Arroyo still opposed to death penalty - Palace exec
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not keen on accommodating
suggestionsth penalty in the wake of the "Alabang Boys" drug scandal, a
Malacaang official said Friday.
In her report, radio dzBB's Aileen Intia quoted Presidential Management
Staff head Cerge Remonde as saying that President Arroyo has not changed
her position on the issue of death penalty.
Mrs Arroyo signed a measure abolishing the death penalty in 2006, shortly
before going to the Vatican to call on Pope Benedict XVI.
Calls for the restoration of the death penalty mounted in the wake of
alleged bribery and use of connections to secure the release of 3 scions
of rich families linked to a drug case.
Remonde said that instead of reviving the death penalty, President Arroyo
is more likely to come out with a "comprehensive plan" against drugs.
He also said the President is likely to come out with a policy statement
to strengthen the government's efforts against the illegal drug trade.
Earlier in the day, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz stressed that
restoring the death penalty law will never deter crimes.
"Yan talaga ang [tugon ng] buong simbahan (It has been the stand of the
Church), death penalty is not the answer as a deterrent for crime. It has
never been a deterrent and it will never be," Cruz said in an interview on
On Thursday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
opposed proposals to revive the death penalty to counter the drug problem.
The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) said taking
away life cannot and "will never stop" the commission of crimes.
"The problem is that they always think the death penalty is the deterrent
but it's not. Because if it really is, then crimes like terrorism, rape,
corruption and other hard crimes (will never be committed)," ECPPC
executive secretary Rodolfo Diamante said in an article on the CBCP
(source: GMA News)
Death penalty won't solve drug menace--bishop
A dysfunctional judicial system and a weak police force are among the
reasons for the growing drug menace in the country, a bishop said Friday
as he reiterated the Catholic Church's strong opposition to death penalty.
"The problem in our country is a dysfunctional judicial system and also a
very weak police force application. The drug traffickers escape because
our judicial system is not working and our police agencies are not
equipped to deal with crimes like these," Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop
Oscar Cruz told ABS-CBN's morning show, "Umagang Kay Ganda."
Cruz was reacting to Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri's proposal to reinstate death
penalty against convicted drug traffickers and multiple murderers.
Zubiri came up with the proposal amid the Philippine Drug Enforcement
Agency's (PDEA) verbal encounter against rich families of the so-called
The senator said death penalty has been proven as an effective drugs and
crime deterrent. He said drug syndicates' activities in Malaysia and Saudi
Arabia are slowly being confined by the authorities because of the
fearsome death penalty.
"In Malaysia, death by hanging and in Saudi Arabia, death by guillotine...
Ask overseas Filipino workers. However bad they are in the Philippines,
they become good in Saudi and Malaysia because they know that if you steal
something, your hands will be cut and if you commit rape, you will be
beheaded," he said.
He added: "They abide by the law because they are afraid of being severely
Cruz, however, said that if death penalty is really effective, it should
have been made a universal law and zero heinous crimes should be recorded
in all countries that are implementing the punishment.
The PDEA and the Dangerous Drugs Board on Thursday asked lawmakers to
reinstate death penalty as they revealed latest data that indicate the
Philippines has become the No. 1 drug country in Southeast Asia.
PDEA agent, Marines Major Ferdinand Marcelino, who led a team that
arrested the Alabang Boys, had said that some officials of the Department
of Justice (DOJ) could have taken millions of bribe money from one of the
suspects' rich relatives.
The DOJ has issued a resolution ordering the release of the Alabang Boys
-- Richard Brodette, Joseph Tecson, and Jorge Jordana Joseph -- and the
dismissal of the drug complaint filed against them by the PDEA.
The PDEA, however, contested the resolution citing a DOJ memorandum
circular that says cases involving heinous crimes should go through an
automatic review by the DOJ secretary before its implementation.
DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez had promised during an inquiry in the House of
Representatives last Wednesday to finish the review in 10 days.
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