International

Philippine Senate and House Vote Overwhelmingly to Abolish Death Penalty

On June 6, the Philippine Senate voted with no negative votes to abolish the death penalty.  Even senators who supported the death penalty voted for abolition.  Life without parole sentences or 40 years in prison will be substituted for execution, depending on the offense.   President Arroyo is strongly in favor of the effort to end the death penalty.  Under the bill, all death sentences will be commuted to life sentences.

One of the senators who was hesitant about ending capital punishment, Sen. Richard Gordon, nevertheless said, "It is so easy to kill a person to bring him to justice, but the lifetime suffering of a nation when it finds out that it has made a mistake is indelible."  Some of Gordon's family members had been murdered earlier.

On the same day, the Philippine House of Representatives voted 119-20 for a similar bill outlawing capital punishment.  The two bodies are expected to reconcile differences in their bills and President Arroyo is expected to sign the final version of the legislation.

The death penalty had been re-established in the Philippines in 1993.  There have been 7 executions since then.  Lethal injection was the method of  execution.  There are currently 1,022 inmates on death row.

Foreign Nationals on U.S. Death Rows

There are currently 120 foreign nationals from 32 countries on death rows across the U.S. These are individuals who have been condemned to death in this country but are not citizens of the U.S. In many cases, these defendants were not informed of their rights under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. This treaty was signed and ratified by the U.S., but many defendants from countries that are also parties to the Vienna Convention were not told of their right to contact the consulate of their native country.

Report on the Death Penalty Worldwide

Amnesty International's most recent death penalty report, "The Death Penalty Worldwide: Developments in 2005," revealed a substantial drop in recorded executions around the world, as well as a growing number of nations that have abandoned the death penalty. According to the report, four nations accounted for 94% of the 2,148 recorded executions carried out around the world in 2005, a total that is significantly less than the 3,797 executions recorded in 2004 (however, in many countries the exact number of executions is unknown):

Amnesty International Report Finds Declining Executions and Trend Toward Abolition

Amnesty International's most recent death penalty report, "The Death Penalty Worldwide: Developments in 2005," revealed a substantial drop in recorded executions around the world, as well as a growing number of nations that have abandoned the death penalty. According to the report, four nations accounted for 94% of the 2,148 recorded executions carried out around the world in 2005, a total that is significantly less than the 3,797 executions recorded in 2004 (however, in many countries the exact number of executions is unknown).

PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT ORDERS COMMUTATIONS OF ALL ON DEATH ROW

Philippine President Gloria Macapagel-Arroyo (pictured) ordered the commutation of all death sentences to life in prison, an order that will spare the lives of the 1,205 people on death row. As her nation marked Easter Sunday, she issued the clemencies: "I wish to announce that we are changing our policy on those who have been imposed the death penalty. We are reducing their penalty to life imprisonment.

INTERNATIONAL: Mandatory Death Penalty Struck Down in Bahamas

The British Privy Council in London unanimously struck down the imposition of mandatory death sentences in the Bahamas. This landmark decision held that the law "should be construed as imposing a discretionary and not a mandatory sentence of death." The Privy Council ruling said that the mandatory death penalty should have been regarded as inhumane and degrading punishment as early as 1973.

South Korea Close to Ending Death Penalty

South Korea's Ministry of Justice has announced that it is considering replacing the death penalty with life without parole, a move that the ministry says stems from concerns about human rights. "We will thoroughly examine the possibility of abolishing the death penalty as part of efforts to set up a human rights-oriented penal system. . . . We will review the adequacy of introducing permanent life imprisonment which cannot be remitted by parole, as well as necesary budget and effect of the system," a ministry official noted.

PUBLIC OPINION: Gallup Review Compares Support for Capital Punishment Among Countries

An examination of recent Gallup surveys in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada found that Americans are more supportive of the death penalty than are either Britons or Canadians. An October 2005 poll of Americans measured support for the death penalty at 64%, a figure that was significantly higher than the 44% support measured in Canada and the 49% support found in Great Britain during December 2005 polls.  Support for the death penalty recently declined in both Great Britain and Canada, but remained the same in the U.S.

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