Rights Lawyers Decry Continuous Political Killings

Flawed justice system

Human rights groups said that given the “flawed justice system”, the death penalty would not render justice to all victims of heinous crimes.

Both lawyers said that most death convicts are poor people who can’t afford costly legal services for their defense.

Worse, Diokno said, some innocent people are meted out the death penalty.

He cited a kidnapping case he handled 10 years ago where a co-accused was used by the government to testify against his client. The co-accused, turned state witness, admitted in court that he was tortured by the police to pin down Diokno’s client. The case remains unresolved up to now.

Diokno said that even if there are free legal assistance services being offered by the Public Attorney’s Office and non-governmental organizations like the FLAG, these entities cannot cope with the numerous cases being referred to them. Their resources are not even sufficient to gather evidences and look for witnesses.

Cinco added that because a lot of people seek free legal assistance, pro bono lawyers are overworked handling at least 15 cases a day. “With this situation, you can just imagine how difficult it is for the lawyer to study all his/her cases well,” Cinco said.

Cinco said the government’s practice of criminalizing political offenses as another proof of the flawed justice system. He cited that the Supreme Court decision in the “People vs. Amado V. Hernandez” case expressly prohibits the criminalization of acts that are committed in pursuit of political aims. At present, there are about 276 political prisoners. Of this number, 11 are in death row. (Bulatlat.com)

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