Friday, November 29, 2013

Gov’t trains prosecutors, police investigators on int’l humanitarian law



From the Website of OPPAP
links: http://www.opapp.gov.ph/cpp-npa-ndf/news/gov%E2%80%99t-trains-prosecutors-police-investigators-int%E2%80%99l-humanitarian-law


Gov’t trains prosecutors, police investigators on int’l humanitarian law

Posted on Tuesday, Nov 26th, 2013
Atty. Jaime C.N. Arroyo, secretariat head of the Government Monitoring Committee on the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, discusses results of case analyses of morning breakout groups during the IHL training for police investigators and prosecutors in Surigao City. The training was held to deepen their understanding of the law and its importance in the context of armed conflict.

Manila —Investigators from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Caraga received training on Republic Act (RA) 9851, also known as the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Genocide, and other Crimes against Humanity last 14 November in Surigao City.

The training was meant to deepen the law enforcers’ understanding of the law and its importance in the context of armed conflict, and encourage greater police-prosecutor cooperation in building strong cases for effective prosecution under RA 9851. It was conducted by the Government Monitoring Committee on the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (GPH-MC on CARHRIHL) in partnership with the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police’s Human Rights Affairs Office.


Atty. Jaime C.N. Arroyo, secretariat head of the GPH-MC said, “This piece of legislation can serve as a very effective tool against impunity by punishing the violations that tend to occur in the local armed conflicts that continue to rage in several provinces across the country.”

He added, “This was best exemplified in the harrowing events in Zamboanga City last September where civilians were used as human shields. The time has come to send the message to violators of IHL that the government does not tolerate such atrocities and intends to bring them all to justice. And it is our local law enforcers and prosecutors who can most effectively wield this law against the violators.”

Specific war crimes in a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) include, willful killing, torture, hostage-taking, attacking civilian persons and objects, using weapons that cause undue suffering, and misusing official uniforms and distinctive emblems of humanitarian groups to name a few.

Police, prosecutor enthusiasm

For the police investigators and prosecutors, the training was a welcome enhancement in their efforts to prosecute HR violations under the rubric of IHL.

Surigao del Norte Associate Prosecution Atty. Ligaya Berango, a workshop participant, remarked that it will be easier to prosecute organized armed groups under RA 9851. “This new law is a breakthrough in our judicial system. The law corrects many deficiencies in our laws, such as under the Revised Penal Code for rebellion. This law for me is very important considering that we have a lot of cases of rebellion.”
Another participant, SPO1 Cheryl Q. Saldo is pleased and encouraged that under RA 9851, both state and non-state armed groups are equally accountable for HR-IHL violations, and that no special treatment is accorded to any particular perpetrator “unlike before when it would be ‘all right’ na lang,” Saldo said, alluding to the seemingly preferential treatment accorded to armed rebel groups in HR-IHL discussion.

Strengthening commitments

RA 9851, enacted in 2009, is the local iteration of the 1998 Rome Statute which the Philippines ratified in 2011.  It sets penalties for war crimes, acts of genocide, or other crimes against humanity. War crimes may include those that take place in international and non-international armed conflicts, such as those between the forces of the government and armed non-state actors. The Rome Statute established the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Atty. Herminia T. Angeles, Senior State Counsel of the DOJ who lectured on the Rome Statute, noted that the Philippines is answerable to the ICC if it is “unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute crimes…such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.”

“The local prosecutors…play a very vital role in the determination of the ICC, whether the state has the capacity to conduct investigation and prosecution on its own, hence the relevance of the Rome Statute in this training,” she added.

Violations against certain provisions in the CARHRIHL are now punishable under RA 9851 and other recently-enacted laws, the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act (RA 10353) and the Anti-Torture Act (RA 9745).

Signed in 1998 by the Government and the National Democratic Front, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, CARHRIHL is the first and only major agreement reached by both parties in 22 years of on-and-off negotiations. CARHRIHL upholds principles of human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of armed conflict. #


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