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CHR says children are ‘unseen victims’ of death penalty

MANILA, Philippines —  On the 17th World Day Against the Death Penalty, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) stressed that children are the “unseen victims” of capital punishment saying their suffering can be considered as violation of rights.

“This year’s theme focuses on the unseen victims of capital punishment —children whose parents have been sentenced to death,” CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit said Thursday in a statement.

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“The psychological and emotional suffering of these children can amount to a violation of their rights,” she added.

Dumpit stressed the effect of capital punishment not only inflicts “torture” on the convicted, but the effect also extends to their loved ones especially the children.

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“This perpetuates the cycle of violence and despair as the children of those executed bear the stigma from the community, experience psychological trauma, and may carry the emotional burden into adulthood which may be passed on to their own children,” Dumpit said.

In light of this, Dumpit reiterated CHR’s call to the government to commit to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which bars states from reintroducing death penalty once it is abolished.

“The very nature of the treaty does not allow for withdrawal or denunciation. To reintroduce the death penalty once again will be a serious breach of international law,” Dumpit stressed.

Instead of reimposing the death penalty, Dumpit said government should address problems causing the people to commit crimes.

“Our country and its government instrumentalities must endeavor to address the deeper problems that cause commission of crimes,  implement alternative programs to prevent offending through a restorative justice framework and ensure certainty of punishment through  due process,  rule of law and utmost respect for the right to life of all,” Dumpit said.

Several bills have been filed before the House and the Senate aiming to restore death penalty for heinous crimes, drug trafficking, among others.

President Rodrigo Duterte has also expressed support to reimpose capital punishment especially for drug-related crimes. /muf

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