What is the Risk that the Death Penalty Will Return in Your Country?
This interactive tool will allow you to identify the threat levels of the resurgence of the death penalty in your country. It is based on key indicators drawn from the experience of the World Coalition’s pilot project in three countries: the Maldives, the Philippines and Turkey from 2018 to 2021.
For each set of questions, you may click on the icon to have more information on that question and concrete examples from the three countries (Maldives, Philippines and Turkey).
Once you have filled in all the questionnaire (6 subcategories and 20 questions in total) you will be redirected to a result page which will tell you if there is no risk, a moderate risk, a high risk or a very high risk. In the three last cases, you will also be given advice and tools to help you prevent the reintroduction of the death penalty in your country.
Please note that this tool is primarily aimed at countries that have already abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.
A. Executive Branch
Has the president or other governmental body made public statements, more than once, to reinstate the death penalty or resume executions?
The President of Turkey has pledged to reinstate the death penalty at several occasions for different crimes (terrorism, homicides of women, of children)
Has the candidate president made an electoral pledge to reinstate the death penalty or resume executions?
The President of the Philippines is a strong advocate of the death penalty. He has pledged, since his election, to reinstate the death penalty.
Duterte advocates for the death penalty, claiming that killing drug dealers and users is the way to make the country safer and more prosperous.
Has a president, other governmental body, or other influential institution campaigned for public support of the death penalty?
In the Philippines, President Duterte has used his State of the Nation addresses to rally for the death penalty; in a recent address, he directly asked the senate why the bill had not passed.
Duterte has also spread a false narrative to the public that the death penalty will lead to a more prosperous country. He claims, without data, that the drug trade in the country is the reason for a high crime rate and poverty. He further claims that the death penalty is a way to eliminate drugs.
In Turkey, President Erdogan is using the rhetoric and imagery of terroristic and brutal violence in rallies to bolster politics support.
In the Maldives, support of the death penalty is predominately fueled by a growing majority support of extremist religions. The perception is that anyone who supports abolition of the death penalty will lose the Muslim vote.
The Maldives’ permanent representative to the U.N. said that the Maldivian constitution states that Islam is the basis of all laws in the Maldives and that the penal code prescribes the death penalty for murder in accordance with Islamic shariah. On this basis he said that to favor abolition would be both unconstitutional and undemocratic.
Has a governmental body revised the method of execution, hired an executioner, build an execution chamber or made any other concrete steps to resume executions in the short term?
The former President of the Maldives, in the summer of 2017, threatened to carry out executions of those sitting on death row in the country within two months and informed the nation that the construction of an execution chamber had been completed.
Has the president or Minister of Justice signed a death warrant?
B. Legislative Branch
Has a member of parliament drafted a private member’s bill to reinstate the death penalty?
Has a bill to reinstate the death penalty been tabled on the legislative agenda with the support of the executive?
Has the legislative branch passed bills reinstating the death penalty?
A bill to reinstate the death penalty has passed in one of the Philippines’ two houses of congress. In March of 2021, The House of Representatives passed House Bill 7814, which would reinstate the death penalty for drug related offenses.
C. General Public and National Context
Do public opinion polls show that the majority of citizens support the death penalty?
The majority of Turkish citizens support the death penalty. In a 2019 poll, 71.7% answered “Yes” to the question “Would you support the death penalty for the crimes of child abuse, murder of women and terrorism?”
The majority of Filipinos support the drug penalty for offenses as minor as working in drug dens or selling drugs.
Speaking at a UN meeting, the Maldivian attorney general stated that the death penalty would not be repealed without extensive surveying of the public opinion on the topic.
Do influential political or religious groups support the death penalty?
Religious extremist groups are a huge obstacle to the abolition of the death penalty in the Maldives. These groups have wide influence and have launched successful smear campaigns leading to the total shut down of groups, which they deem blasphemous, that publish reports citing increased radicalization in the country.
D. Civil Society
Are civil society groups who oppose reinstatement (or support abolition) of the death penalty able to operate in the country without risk?
In the Philippines, civil society groups exist and have organized events to prevent reinstatement of the death penalty, but the groups are all targets of cyber-attacks. Many believe the cyber-attacks are government funded.
Turkey is at greater risk, because no civil society groups are able to function in the nation due to the degree of government control and lack of free speech.
Civil society actors in the Maldives face the highest risk; religious extremist groups not only continue cyber-attacks against abolitionist groups, but have also physically followed and circulated personal information of individuals who support the abolition of the death penalty in the Maldives. Civil service actors routinely face online death threats, even after leaving the country.
Are civil society groups who campaign against the death penalty subjected to harassment, arrest and closed down?
In Turkey, Authorities have detained and tried Taner Kilic, the Honorary President of Amnesty Turkey, and Idil Eser, the former director of Amnesty Turkey, on terrorism related charges. The case’s final decision was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, but the motivation is clearly an intent to muzzle civil society.
1,500 human rights lawyers have been tried for terrorism-related offenses. Bar associations have been active working on the death penalty and face very serious human right violations, including intimidation, illegal seizures, and surveillance.
In the Maldives, MDN was banned on blasphemy related charges
E. Rule of Law and the Judiciary
Does the government respect existing laws?
In the Philippines, the President has threatened to amend the country’s constitution to stay in power longer. The President’s war on drugs also led to a surge of unsanctioned extrajudicial killings.
In Turkey, Parliament has expanded coverage of the crime of terrorism under its criminal code to include certain types of speech, putting journalists, lawyers, and civil society groups at risk of terrorism charges.
Is the National Human Rights Institution independent (A accreditation according to GANHRI)?
In the Philippines, Commission for Human Rights is fully independent with A accreditation from GANHRI and a leading force against the reinstatement of the death penalty.
In Turkey, there is no NHRI.
In the Maldives, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has a B accreditation from GANHRI. Its mission statement reads: “To lead the promotion and protection of Human Rights under the Maldives Constitution, Islamic Shari’ah and regional and international Human Rights Conventions ratified by the Maldives.”
To know more about GANHRI’s accreditation system and if your country’s NHRI has an “A” accreditation
Is the Supreme or Constitutional Court independent from the executive?
F. International Commitments
Has the country recently withdrawn from an international treaty it was previously party to?
In 2019, the Philippines withdrew from the International Criminal Court, because the court was probing accusations of crimes linked to Duterte’s campaign against drugs.
In March 2021, Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence. Turkey was the first country to ratify the Convention in 2012.
Has the government displayed willingness to resist international pressure in the recent past?
After promising to vote in favor of the UN General Assembly’s resolution “Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty,” the Maldivian representative proceeded to vote against the resolution the next month.
Human Rights Watch noted the Philippines’ growing reputation as an international “human rights pariah” after the country withdrew from the International Criminal Court in 2019 and launched a disinformation campaign at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Amnesty International noted that the judiciary in Turkey disregarded fair trial guarantees and due process and continued to apply broadly defined anti-terrorism laws to punish acts protected under international human rights law. It further noted the baseless convictions of several human rights defenders in the country.
Has the country voted in favor of the most recent UNGA moratorium resolution?
Not sure? Check what your country voted
Is the country part of the GSP+ scheme?
To know more about the GSP+ scheme and if your country is part of it
Is the country a state party to an international and/or regional treaty to abolish the death penalty?
Turkey and Philippines Presidents’ push to reinstate the death penalty would violate the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both countries are members of.
Turkey has also ratified Protocol 6 and Protocol 13 to the European Convention for Human Rights
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