Artiklar om ICC och Filippinerna
Publicerad: 3 oktober 2008
"Military not keen on International Criminal Court"
Business World (Manila) September 27, 2008
Military not keen on International Criminal Court
BY IRA P. PEDRASA, Reporter
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in a speech before the delegates of the International Conference on the International Criminal Court, yesterday, backed calls for the country to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that will bind it to prosecuting crimes against humanity in an international venue, saying there is a need for an "additional firewall" to protect human rights.
This as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) submitted a paper stating it was not keen on the international statute.
Mr. Puno said "the protection of human rights has [long depended] on national courts. Experience, however, has shown that the power of national courts to remedy violations of human rights runs against certain serious impediments."
This statute, which the country signed along with 120 states in July 1998, is the founding treaty of the ICC. The ICC is a permanent and international criminal court established to help end serious crimes against humanity, such as war crimes and genocide. It came into effect on July 1, 2002 after its ratification by more than 60 countries.
The Philippines is one of the few countries left that have not ratified the treaty.
With only national courts to help combat human rights violations, the accused have found ways to avoid prosecution.
"[There are moves for the] enactment of laws granting amnesty for war crimes or crimes against humanity," he said.
These amnesty laws will deny prosecutors the right to investigate them "or even obliterate judgments against those already found guilty," he added.
"I'd like to believe that the coming of the International Criminal Court starts the dawn of another day for international human rights. It is the day when human rights ought to be respected because they are rights of humans as human beings... not because they are politically convenient or economically advantageous to the powers that be," he said.
In a paper submitted at the conference, AFP Chief of Staff General Alexander B. Yano said, "We however, humbly submit that even without the ICC, enough legal and institutional safeguards are available to protect our citizens against abuse - be it incidental or systematic."
He said that the ratification of the statute will only open doors for politically motivated cases against the military.
"The issues on extra-judicial killings and other cases like enforced disappearances and tortures are generally propaganda. While we admit that a few of our personnel have crossed the line, we make sure that the legal process will apply to them," he said.
He alleged that the biggest violators of human rights are the rebel groups themselves such as the "terrorist" New People's Army and the "lawless" Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf.
"Our only plea to the people is not to be too hasty in their´judgment. The Armed Forces is on your side," he added.
"Sovereignty should protect people not cover up war crimes"
Global Nation (Manila) 26 September 2008
CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO:
Sovereignty should protect people, not cover up war crimes
AFP wants Rome Statute ratified - inspector general
By Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines -- The sovereignty of a state is intended to protect its people and not cover up the abuses of those in power, especially war criminals and human rights violators, Chief Justice Reynato Puno said on Friday.
At the same time, Lieutenant General Ferdinand Bocobo, the military inspector general said the Armed Forces of the Philippines supports the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) because it will strengthen the local anti-terrorism law, officially known as the Human Security Act.
"Sovereignty of a State is a sword to promote the welfare of its people and is not a shield to cover the wrongdoings of its officials, especially those who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture or terrorism," Puno said in a speech at the International Conference on the International Criminal Court.
Signed on July 17, 1998, the Rome Statute came into effect July 1, 2002. It established the ICC, which aims to try those accused of international crimes, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Although the Philippines was one of the countries that drafted the 1998 treaty, which was signed by former president Joseph Estrada in December 2000, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has not submitted the document to the Senate for ratification despite calls from various sectors for Malacañang to do so.
Administration critics have accused the Arroyo government of buckling to pressure from the United States not to ratify the Rome Statute.
"This decision by the Philippines not to be part of the International Criminal Court is, we believe, dictated more by politics and power alignments than by a true intent and desire to join the international community in the prosecution of crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and crimes of aggression," lawyer Marcial Magsino, governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines governor said during conference on the ICC.
"We are an ally and staunch supporter of the United States of America, and though it is not a declared foreign policy of the Philippines, we have always aligned our decisions in the international arena with the whims and desires of the US. [The] US and Israel's decision in 2002 to 'unsign' from the Rome Statute with no sign that they will again sign in the foreseeable future, strongly indicates that the Philippines will not affix its own signature to the treaty anytime soon," Magsino said.
Puno said the ICC is the answer to the question of what to do if the government itself is involved in serious violations of human rights.
"I like to believe that the coming of the International Criminal Court starts the dawn of another day for international human rights. It is the day when human rights ought to respected because they are rights of human as human beings, because they are inseparable to human dignity, and not because they are politically convenient or economically advantageous to the powers that be," Puno said.
Currently, Puno said national courts face several impediments in prosecuting cases involving official abuse that can be cured if the Philippines ratifies the Rome Statute.
Among these are
* the prescription of crimes after certain number of years;
* instances where a final sentence that has not been served after a certain number of years loses its efficacy;
* the prohibition against double jeopardy. Under this principle, a national court cannot entertain proceedings against a person for a crime that has already been the object of criminal proceedings in the same State and for which the person has already been convicted or acquitted;
* the different kinds of immunities given to certain classes of officials that prevent their prosecution.
"Some of these immunities pertain to heads of state, members of parliament and other officials of government. Others pertain to foreign dignitaries like heads of state, diplomatic or consular agents, who are either discharging their functions on the territory or are in transit there on their way to or from the country where they are fulfilling their mission," Puno said.
"All these impediments will not pose insurmountable problems for the International Court of Criminal Law," he added
The "International Criminal Court itself provides that the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court shall not be subject to any statute of limitation," he said. "In fine, the International Criminal Court gives hope to the hopeless in states where human rights are written as creeds but violated in deeds."
From the standpoint of human rights, the IBP called the government's decision to sit on the ratification of the Rome Statute disappointing. It said that being a sovereign nation and a member of the international community, the Philippines must respect and recognize the universal concept of human rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
As of July, 2008, there are 106 signatories to the Rome Statute.
"Int'l court on human rights could be used to discredit us –AFP"
Newsbreak (Philippines) Friday, 26 September 2008
Int'l court on human rights could be used to discredit us -- AFP
Written by Aries Rufo
Besieged by allegations that it is behind the spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has expressed reservation to a treaty that deals with crimes against humanity, fearing it could be used to discredit the military institution.
But Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Reynato Puno disagreed, saying the trend on international jurisprudence is to prosecute serious violations of human rights and an international criminal court "could provide an additional firewall" against violations.
In a paper presented Friday at the concluding day on the conference on the International Criminal Court (ICC), AFP Inspector Gen. Ferdinand Bocobo said that while the adoption of the Rome Statute of the ICC "is a positive step towards upholding the law," such can be taken advantage of by State enemies to embarrass or shame the government before the international community.
Bocobo, who presented the paper in behalf of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano, cited the local experience where atrocities and internal purging were committed by State enemies and lawless elements and for which the blame is being put on the military.
"The AFP positively welcomes formal charges made in the courts law and to indemnify the victims if deemed necessary. However it must be said that in many cases, the lack of witnesses for the successful prosecution is deliberately caused by the insurgents themselves and their allies to prolong the issues to discredit the AFP. The longer the cases drag, the better the enemies can exploit the situation to negatively portray the AFP in a bad light," he said.
This could explain the government's continued refusal to adopt the Rome Statute on the ICC, which binds the country to submit itself to the international court to prosecute crimes against humanity, like genocide, war crimes and crime of aggression.
The government is yet to submit to the Senate the Rome Treaty, adopted already by 106 countries, for ratification. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, in a statement Thursday, said the government's refusal "is dictated more by politics and power alignments than by a true intent and desire to join the international community in the prosecution of crimes."
In adopting a wary eye on the ICC, the AFP paper maintained that there exists a "realistic scenario" that the treaty "may serve as a convenient venue for filing partisan and politically-motivated cases of human rights violations against uniformed men to hog-tie our security efforts against terrorists and lawless elements."
On the issue of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings for instance, the AFP insisted that allegations that the institution is behind it "are generally propaganda."
Bocobo said that there are few AFP personnel who "have crossed the line," and the organization, as a policy, "does not condone, tolerate, encourage or utilize illegal means such as torture and assassination to do our mission."
On the contrary, such acts being blamed on the military were the handiworks themselves of State enemies and lawless elements. Bocobo cited as examples the mass graves of the victims prompted by internal purging in the communist movement and the attacks of some elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on civilian communities in Central Mindanao.
The AFP paper also raised question on the capacity of the ICC as a "neutral forum" to dispense justice on serious crimes against humanity while at the same time insulating it from partisan interests.
"We need to ask the hard questions: Will the assumption of jurisdiction by the Court with respect to unwilling State parties, whose nationals are being investigated, or prosecuted, threaten their sovereignty? What would be the review procedure? Are these existing checks and balances in the exercise of jurisdiction and the exercise of power to investigate and prosecute these grave offenders?" the AFP paper asked.
But even without the country submitting itself to the jurisdiction of the ICC, the AFP maintained that there are adequate safeguards to prosecute and hold liable erring AFP members for serious crimes.
One of these is the dictum on command responsibility to instill accountability among the soldiers. "It is just a matter of instituting discipline in the organization to prevent abuses from occurring, and allows us to prosecute the guilty," Bocobo said.
In his closing remarks, Chief Justice Puno said the ICC would be an effective mechanism to protect and uphold human rights which, to a large extent, the enforcement has been heavily dependent on the government's commitment.
He cited amnesty, statutes on limitation, prohibition on double-jeopardy and grant of immunities granted and passed by States that had human rights violators escaping punishment.
But these impediments, Puno noted, "will not pose as insurmountable problems for the ICC" considering its mandate and "the emerging jurisprudence in international criminal law."
For instance, Article 29 of the ICC provides that "the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court shall not be subject to any statute of limitation," Puno noted.
Growing jurisprudence support the non-applicability of statute of limitation on serious violations on human rights, he added.