Subject: East Timor support on death commutation in Philippines

PIA Press Release


PGMA earns EU, East Timor support on death commutation

Cebu City (20 April) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has found some allies in the European Union (EU) and the Government of Timor-Leste (East Timor) for her decision to commute all death sentences into life imprisonment amid criticisms in the domestic front.

Austrian Ambassador H.E. Herbert Jaeger said the EU warmly welcomes Mrs. Arroyo’s move to commute convicts under death row into life imprisonment term and her recent announcement to certify as urgent the bill on the abolition of the death penalty.

Jaeger who read the statement by the Austrian Presidency on behalf of the EU said the EU is a strong advocate of the abolition of the death penalty, as it is of the opinion that capital punishment is incompatible with human dignity and is not an effective deterrent to crime.

Jaeger however stressed, the abolition of the death penalty does not mean impunity.

Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste likewise, commended President Arroyo for her compassion and courage in commuting death sentences into life in prison.

Horta added that he shares the sentiments of the victims of cruelty and premeditated violence but that taking the lives of those who have done us harm is not sufficient justification. “Sometimes the death penalty is the easiest way out ….. while allowing him to live is the best punishment as every hour or day in prison is a reminder of his horrible crimes,” Horta quoted.

Horta said that in spite of the long history of violence, the Constitution of Timor- Leste bars the death penalty and our longest prison term is 25 years.

The East Timor senior official also commended the President for the promising peace process to end the decades-long conflict in the Mindanao region.

Horta was one of the resource speakers who talked on the topic “Dilemmas in the Fight Against Terrorism” of the three-day First Philippine Counter-Terrorism Experts’ Conference (CTEC) that opened this morning at Shangri-la Mactan Island Resort in Lapulapu City attended by over 500 foreign delegates including Jaeger and local representatives. (PIA-7)

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