Absolute pardon granted to Pemberton an act of impunity

Media Quote

8 September 2020

Responding to President Duterte’s granting of absolute pardon to U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton convicted of killing Jennifer Laude, Amnesty International Philippines Director, Butch Olano, said:

“The absolute pardon granted by President Duterte to Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton is a tragic reminder of the prevailing culture of impunity in the country.

“President Duterte’s decision exempts Pemberton from serving the remaining time of his punishment for killing a Filipino citizen while on active duty in the Philippines, despite his testimony of admission and convincing evidence of his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

“The President’s prerogative of clemency exists to correct mistakes made in a flawed judicial proceeding. The killing of Jennifer Laude, however, was carried out with blatant disregard for her life and dignity and proven in a court of law. The President’s decision to pardon Pemberton is ultimately an act of impunity and an impediment to obtaining justice.


On 7 September 2020, six days after U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton filed a motion for his release under Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), President Duterte granted him absolute pardon extinguishing all of his criminal liabilities without condition. Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City in 2014.

Pemberton has only served five years and eight months of his prison sentence of six to 10 years for killing Laude in 2014. His motion for release is the first time that the GCTA is being claimed by a US soldier while in solitary confinement, and not serving his jail term at the New Bilibid Prison in accordance with the Visiting Forces Ageement, a mutual defence treaty between the Philippines and the US.