Friday, 17 April 2015

“The death penalty is widely considered to be a disproportionate penalty for drug-related offences.”


By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
IADL logoMANILA – The International Association of Democratic Lawyers has asked the Indonesian government to overturn its death sentence against Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina in death row in Indonesia.

In an April 9 letter of appeal to Indonesian president Joko Widodo, IADL president Jeanne Mirer expressed grave concern “because of the numerous reported violations of Veloso’s human rights, including the right to a fair trial and due process, as guaranteed under both domestic and international law.”

Death penalty, said Mirer, “should be reserved only for the most serious cases and that no individual should be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life.”

Veloso was sentenced to death months after she was arrested back in 2010. Her family said Veloso was a victim of trafficking by no less than her godsister.

The IADL, which has a consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said they hope that the Indonesian government would consider their letter.

Mirer stressed in the letter that the “seriousness or gravity of the crime” is crucial in determining the severity of the sentence.

Article 6 of the ICCPR and the UN ECOSOC Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty, she added, limits imposition of death penalty to the “most serious crimes.”

The UN Human Rights Committee, for its part, has ruled that death penalty should be “an exceptional measure.”

“The death penalty is widely considered to be a disproportionate penalty for drug-related offences,” Mirer said.

She said it means that the death penalty should be reserved for only the ‘most serious crimes,’ and should not be imposed if the offender’s level of participation “was anything short of maximal.”

The international lawyers’ group, further stated in its letter that the Indonesian court should also assess a defendant’s situation as aggravating and mitigating circumstances, as covered by the principle of individualized sentencing.

The individualized sentencing, Mirer said, provides consideration for mitigating evidence for one’s case. Failure to consider such would violate one’s right to not to be “arbitrarily deprived of one’s life, to be free from inhuman and degrading punishment, to a fair trial, and to access to justice.”

Mirer said the death penalty “is final, irreversible, and engages the most fundamental of all human rights, namely, the right to life.”

“Sentencing a defendant to death by reference to the category of the offence rather than the individual circumstances of the offender is arbitrary, disproportionate and contrary to the basic norms of due process,” she said.

As in this case, Mirer said, Veloso was forced by the dire conditions in the country to seek work abroad. Her intention, she said, was not to smuggle heroin but to find a job. Veloso, too, was not given due legal services such as a duly-accredited translator and a lawyer.
      
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Full Text: Mary Jane Veloso narrates how she ended up in death row

http://bulatlat.com/main/2015/04/12/full-text-mary-jane-veloso-narrates-how-she-ended-up-in-death-row/


Thursday, 12 March 2015

“People’s tribunals have had success in directing international attention to grave abuses of human rights in various countries including the Philippines during the Marcos and Arroyo regimes. The IPT draws inspiration and builds on the momentum of previous peoples’ tribunals to advance human rights and hold governments to account.”



International People’s Tribunal | Philippine Coordinating Secretariat
Trunkline: +63 2 927 7061 to 62 loc. 208 | Fax: +63 2 927 698 | Email:pquintosl@iboninternational.org
PRESS RELEASE
International Tribunal to Hear Rights Violations in the Philippines Launched 
QUEZON CITY, March 12, 2014 – An international tribunal to try cases of human rights violations under the presidency of Benigno S. Aquino III has been launched today at the University of the Philippines, Diliman Quezon City.

Dubbed as the International People’s Tribunal (IPT), the initiative will bring into focus the ongoing human rights violations in the Philippines and hold Pres. Aquino and the government of the United States as represented by Pres. Barrack Obama to account before the international community. 

“Beneath the liberal-democratic fa├žade of the Aquino regime, brutal repression of people’s civil and political rights abound, with hundreds of cases of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances and massive displacement of families,” according to Cristina Palabay of Karapatan, one of the complainants to the IPT. 

The IPT will also probe into the role of the increasing US military presence and intervention in the Philippines in worsening the state of human rights in the country. 

“The Mamasapano operation raises questions over the extent of the US military’s involvement in Philippine domestic security. Meanwhile, the Philippine government’s failure to assert jurisdiction over US marine officer Joseph Scott Pemberton for the murder of Jennifer Laude highlights how unequal ties between the US and the Philippines invite impunity,” according to Vanessa Lucas of the US-based National Lawyers Guild, one of the convenors of the IPT.

The Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and another IPT Convenor, Reverend Canon Barry Naylor, explained that the IPT, although judicially non-binding, is symbolic and significant.
“People’s tribunals have had success in directing international attention to grave abuses of human rights in various countries including the Philippines during the Marcos and Arroyo regimes. The IPT draws inspiration and builds on the momentum of previous peoples’ tribunals to advance human rights and hold governments to account,” he said.

In 2008, a US Senate investigation on human rights violations in the Philippines under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led to restrictions on a portion of the annual US military aid package to the Philippine government tied to the implementation of strong human rights recommendations by US advocates.

The IPT is set to convene on July 16-18, 2015 in Washington DC. Former US Congresswoman and peace advocate Cynthia McKinney will be among the distinguished panel of jurors who will hear live testimonies of witnesses from the Philippines.

Conveners of the tribunal include the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), and IBON International.
For more information on the International Peoples Tribunal, visit internationalpeoplestribunal.org. ###


Reference: Paul Quintos, International People’s Tribunal Philippine Coordinating Secretariat, +639175490412,pquintos@iboninternational.org

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Today, we look back and celebrate the victories and gains of the struggle of our foremothers who gave birth to the significant day of March 8 as International Women’s Day.

Our Power to Weep and Stand in the Spirit of our Foremothers
Ecumenical Women’s Forum


This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15)

Today, we look back and celebrate the victories and gains of the struggle of our foremothers who gave birth to the significant day of March 8 as International Women’s Day. They were poor workers, migrants, social activists and believers of Truth and Justice. They defied the law of oppression and disobeyed the rule of exploitation. They were all too familiar with the feeling of fear as they risked the change they wanted to see, and still they dared to subvert the mandates of injustice. We praise their courageous acts, may we be guided by their spirit today.

Today, we remember the women in the pages of Scripture who challenged the normalcy of patriarchy. Their love, heroism, wisdom and solidarity, which are biased for the poor and those subjected to discrimination, stand as a powerful testimony of liberation and redemption. We praise their courageous acts, may we be guided by their spirit today.

In memory of them, we raise a collective voice.


The challenges we face today as women only increase our purpose, energy and will to carry forward the power and commitment passed on to us by our foremothers.

We have power to weep, like Rachel of the old who wept because her children had gone.

We weep for the fallen 44 members of Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who died in a shoddy and suspect operation under the command of the suspended PNP Chief Purisima whose immediate boss is the Commander-in-Chief of the land. We mourn for the 18 Moro fighters and five civilians who were also casualties of the botched operation. We weep for Sara Pananggulon, an eight year old girl who in her peaceful sleep in the company of her parents was shot dead by SAF troopers, who fired upon her house. We grieve with her parents and community, as another precious child was taken away from us in the name of “war on terror.” We weep for Badrudin Langalan, a farmer who left his home very early in the morning to charge his cell phone. After the operation, his lifeless body, with hands and feet bound, was found amongst the fallen SAF commandos. We weep for their lives that have been unnecessarily sacrificed. As we weep for their lives, we call for Truth and Accountability on the Mamasapano incident.

We weep for our nation, whose people languish under structural negligence, which continues to fail to address poverty and hunger, joblessness, and non-delivery of social and basic services. 

Corruption steals resources deeply needed by the poor. The wealth of the powerful in government and their allies continues to be appallingly increased, while the poor ones live hungry and in need. We reject this kind of governance and call for justice and meaningful change.

The path of justice and truth must be tread. It takes a great, righteous and collective leadership, rooted in the interests and aspiration of the people to shepherd the nation. We can no longer take such wicked ways of governing the people, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)

We prayerfully and collectively proclaim: we will only be comforted when there is truth and accountability, when justice is served to the people, when true the reform is engaged, and when there is democratic governance by the people.##