De Jure Abolition of the Death Penalty: Cambodia and the Philippines

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Book Chapter

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While there appears to be a movement decidedly towards the universal abolition of capital punishment, ASEAN seems to be bucking the trend with only two of its Member-States currently abolitionists de jure. This paper examines anew the Cambodian and Philippine experiences of abolition, both the historical contexts as well as the domestic and international factors influencing them. In addition, this chapter discusses the challenges still faced by the two countries given that even while classified as abolitionist, the situations in both Cambodia and the Philippines are not unreservedly ideal—Cambodia has not ratified the Second Optional Protocol and the Philippine government’s recent authoritarian turn has seen an intensified campaign to reimpose capital punishment through legislation. The chapter concludes by conceding that while neither can be considered model abolitionist States and despite the persistence of imperfect situations, lessons can still be learned from their experiences such as the superiority of constitutional proscriptions. Hopefully, the notion that capital punishment is deeply entrenched, intractable, and necessary in the legal systems of ASEAN Member-States can soon be dispelled as fallacy.