EU urges ratification
Publicerad: 23 april 2007

The Daily Tribune: "EU Presses RP Gov't to Ratify Rome Statute"

Michaela P. del Callar


The European Union is again pressing the Philippine government to ratify the Rome Statute to hasten the effective functioning of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ambassador Alistair Macdonald, head of the delegation of the European Commission (EC) in the Philippines, said the EU wants the ICC implemented in the country.

"It’s not an issue that we should be impatient about, but we want to see the Philippines sign it," Macdonald said in a chance interview on the occasion of the EU’s 50th anniversary.

While he noted the ratification of the ICC is not a prerequisite to the signing of a free trade pact with the EU, another EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, reminded that part of the proposed Partnership Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines, which is on the initial stage of negotiations, are protection of human rights and the country’s implementation of the ICC.

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC will have jurisdiction over perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity — offenses that threaten the peace, security, and well being of humankind — including some acts which may be characterized s terrorism, as well as aggression.

But the Philippine military and police have expressed reservations to the treaty’s ratification, saying leftist groups may take advantage of the treaty.

The military has aired apprehensions that leftist groups could file frivolous and politically motivated cases against them once the the government becomes a signatory to the treaty.

The United States has also stood opposed to the treaty because any American prosecuted by the international court will be denied procedural protection to which all Americans are entitled under the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.

Washington has even threatened to cut military assistance to countries that will ratify the statute.

To apparently circumvent the treaty and to give them immunity from prosecution by the ICC, the US, in 2003, forged an executive agreement with the Philippines on the mutual non-surrender of each other’s citizens, whether they be civilians, military personnel or government officials, who have been charged with crimes against humanity to third parties.

Despite the signing of the immunity accord with the US, the Philippine government still refuses to transmit the instruments of ratification to the Senate, seven years after Manila signed the statute in 2000.

The EU, through EC, had been reaffirming its commitment to pursue its worldwide campaign toward the universal ratification of the Rome Statute, which entered into force in July 1, 2002.

The EC’s Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights has provided over €20 million since 1995, mostly through civil society organizations for projects aimed at supporting the international criminal justice system.

In February 2004, the EU developed an action plan on the ICC, detailing a wide range of the Union’s initiatives to support the court.

The plan envisages that the EU, among others, mainstreams the ICC in its political dialogues with third countries, and integrates an ICC clause into the negotiations of external agreements.

In addition, the EU is committed to support the strengthening of domestic judicial capacities, in countries where the ICC has commenced investigations, to ensure that local jurisdictions are able to deal with crimes covered by the court.