Leo Echegaray Faces Death Sentence Again on 5 February 1999


Urgent Appeal Case: UA990126
ISSUES: Death penalty,

On 23 December 1998 ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION issued an appeal to commute the death sentence of Leo Echegaray. Thanks to all your support he was given reprive for 6 months. Due strong pressure from the pro-death penalty lobby – he now faces death again on 5th February 1999.

7 September 1994: Leo Echegaray was sentenced to death for rape. Leo becomes the first person to be sentenced to death in the Philippines in 23 years.

4 January 1999: Leo Echegaray faced execution by lethal injection.

4 Janaury 1999: The Supreme Court gave a six month reprive just three hours before Leo’s execution.

19 Janaury 1999: The Supreme Court lifted the reprieve and Leo is scheduled to be executed on 5 February 1999. Leo Echegaray was sentenced to death for raping the child of his mistress. This appeal is for commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment. The appeal is not based on any under-estimation of the crime he committed. It is based on the highest principle of recognition of death penalty as an inhuman punishment.


In 1987, the Philippines’ new constitution abolished the death penalty.

In 1993 capital punishment was reintroduced for \"heinous\" crimes including rape, murder, kidnap and drug trafficking. It is applicable for 46 offences and is mandatory for 21. There are 864 people on death row. More ten 450 were sentenced for rape of which 159 cases involved abuse of their own children or close relatives. Each month an average 12 people are sentenced to death.

The reintroduction of the death penalty constitutes a serious threat to the enjoyment of the right to life. The application of the term \"heinous crimes\" or \"serious crimes\" should be limited to such crimes as war crimes and crimes against humanity like genocide or ethnic cleansing.

On 17 July 1998, Philippines sign the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court adopted by United Nations diplomatic Conference of Plenipontentiaries on the Estalishment of an International Criminal Court. The Statutes states that the most serious punishment for convicted war criminals or person responsible for crimes against humanity is life imprisonment. It no longer holds water to claim that the death penalty is society’s self-defenses as there are more effective civilized forms of remedies available in todays modern society.

Its a known fact that the death penalty is imposed disproportionately on the poorest and most disadvantaged people. Philippines needs to combat serious crimes. But there are no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters criminals more effectively than any other punishments.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: We encourage you to continue writing faxes and letters to the philippines government. Request the following action to be taken:

– urge President Estrada to commute the death sentence passed on Leo Echegaray to life imprisonment and to suspend the executions;

– express that the death penalty violates the right to life;

– urge the death penalty to be abolished as recommeded by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/8;


President Joseph Estrada, Malacang Palace, Manila, Philippines. Faxes: + 63 2 832 3793 (via Department of Foreign Affairs) + 63 2 731 1325 (via Press Secretary to the President); e-mails: erap@erap.com


Serafin Cuevas, Secretary of Justice, Department of Justice, Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila. Philippines. E-mails: doj@erap.com; Faxes: + 63 2 521 1614

Ms. Mary Robinson, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Palais des Nations, 8-14 avenue de la Paix, CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. Telephone number: (41 22) 9173456; Fax number: (41 22) 9170213; E-mail: webadmin.hchr@unog.ch

and to diplomatic representatives of the Philippines accredited to your country.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA990126
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Death penalty,