PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 35/46/99
EXTRA 181/99 Imminent execution 17 December 1999
PHILIPPINESAlex Bartolome, labourer
Alex Bartolome is due to be executed in early 2000. According to a report in
the Manila Times his execution has been scheduled for 4 January.
He was sentenced to death in 1995 for the rape of his daughter. The sentence,
imposed by the Cagayan de Oro Regional Trial Court, was later confirmed by
the Supreme Court.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, however heinous
the crime for which it is imposed, as a violation of the right to life and
the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as
proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The death penalty
is an inherently unjust and arbitrary punishment: studies have shown that it
is more likely to be imposed on poorer, less educated and more vulnerable
defendants. The death penalty is irrevocable and there is always the risk that
it may be applied in error. Furthermore, there is no convincing evidence that
it deters crime more effectively than other punishments.
Well over 1,000 prisoners have been sentenced to death since the death penalty
was reintroduced in late 1993 for a wide range of crimes, including rape, murder,
kidnapping, drugs offences, treason, piracy and bribery.
In February 1999 the Philippines carried out its first execution in 23 years.
Leo Echegaray, convicted of the rape of his step-daughter, was executed by
lethal injection, despite appeals on his behalf by the Catholic Church, human
rights groups and the international community. Since then five others have
been executed, including three men who claimed they were tortured by the police
and continued to maintain their innocence to the end. Torture and ill-treatment
by the police to coerce confessions is reported to be widespread and trials
in capital cases often full short of international standards for fairness.
The vast majority of those on death row in the Philippines are poor and unable
to afford the best possible lawyer for their defence.
At least 37 prisoners have had their death sentences confirmed by the Supreme
Court, the majority of whom were sentenced for crimes involving rape. Prisoners
awaiting execution may submit an appeal for clemency to President Estrada.
A “conscience committee”, created in September and headed by Executive Secretary
Ronaldo Zamora, considers each appeal for clemency and recommends to the
President whether the condemned prisoner should live or die. The other members
of the committee are a Catholic leader, two psychology professors and the
chairwoman of a pro-death penalty citizens’ group. On the advice of the
“conscience committee” President Estrada recently commuted four death sentences
but allowed the execution of Pablito Andan to go ahead.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- calling on Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora and the members of the
“conscience committee” to urge President Estrada to grant clemency and commute
to a more humane alternative the death sentence passed on Alex Bartolome;