Bischofskonferenz Kommission Weltkirche Der Vorsitzende
The German Bishops’ Conference
President of the Commission for International Church Affairs
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs
Sigmar Gabriel MdB
Werderscher Markt 1
Dear Foreign Minister Gabriel,
I hereby present to you a request from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which has asked the German Bishops’ Conference to show its solidarity with the CBCP regarding its initiative for the observance of human rights in the Philippines. Together we are exceptionally concerned about the law to reintroduce the death penalty for drug-related crimes, which was passed by the House of Representatives of the Philippines on 7 March. If the Senate of the Philippines approves this law or a similar bill, it would be a major blow to human rights in this country and to the global efforts to abolish the death penalty.
The government of the Philippines is also considering lowering the age of criminal responsibility in conjunction with what President Duterte refers to as the ‘war on drugs’. The Philippine bishops are convinced that these changes must not be accepted, especially in view of the Philippines’ membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, has asked the German Bishops’ Conference to support its appeals to the government of the Philippines in this matter. These appeals voice opposition to the reintroduction of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility and express active support for both the observance of human rights in the fight against drugs and an end to ‘extrajudicial killings’.
On behalf of the German bishops, I would like to comply with this request and state that the German Bishops’ Conference shows solidarity with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in this matter. As chairman of our conference’s Commission for International Church Affairs, which is responsible for matters such as this, I kindly ask you, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, to step up the critical dialogue with the government of the Philippines in the current, politically decisive phase and to do everything in your power to ensure that the human rights situation in the Philippines does not deteriorate.
I thank you for your efforts and wish you a peaceful Easter season.
Archbishop Ludwig Schick