SC forms body to look into human rights violations
The Supreme Court (SC) has created a panel to look into the rising cases of human rights abuses across the country, in particular addressing criminal impunity to guide the judiciary on policy reforms.
The creation of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on Criminal Impunity and Human Rights abuses is in line with the reforms in the judiciary, according to the annual report of the SC, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.
“A Technical Working Group on Human Rights was recently established to evaluate all concerns and recommendations to the judiciary relative to the safeguarding of constitutional rights and human rights policy issues,” said in part the SC annual report.
The high court also said the TWG also aims to monitor incidents or cases of rights abuses and address policy issues to safeguard people’s constitutional and human rights.
The SC is also speeding up resolution of criminal cases to decongest jails across Metro Manila as part of judicial reforms.
In its report, the SC pilot tested the Manila City Jail under Task Force Katarungan at Kalayaan along with the establishment of a Detainee’s Notebook.
As of January, the high court said 403 out of 550 detainees or 73.3 percent have been released under the Task Force Katarungan at Kalayaan Project.
The baseline population of 550 detainees, who are being evaluated to monitor the impact of the review process, was established in January 2014, the report said.
“The task force aims to timely dispose of cases by reviewing these through a set of criteria. Since then, it has significantly contributed to the resolution of cases of inmates at the Manila City Jail,” said the report.
The high court intends to replicate the success of jail decongestion in all detention centers in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The Duterte administration’s war on drugs however led to recurring problems of jail decongestion with thousands drug users and pushers voluntarily surrendering to police for fear that they would be summarily executed by unknown vigilante groups targeting drug suspects.
The high court report said that with the success of jail decongestion in Manila, it will replicate the project in the rest of NCR Judicial region. Jail decongestion is priority in Quezon City, Pasay and Makati as well.
SC Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno earlier criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs that has led to extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, reaching more than a thousand now. She also warned four incumbent judges dragged by President Duterte into the drug crimes not to surrender to police authorities without proper warrant of arrest.
Instead, Sereno formed a fact finding investigation led by retired SC justice Roberto A. Abad to investigate the four incumbent judges using the statement of Mr. Duterte as complaint.
The accused judges Exequil Dagala of the MTC Dapa-Socorro in Surigao; Adriano Savillo, RTC branch 30 in Iloilo City; Domingo Casiple, RTC branch 7 Kalibo,Aklan; and judge Antonio Reyes of RTC branch 61 in Baguio City were directed to respond to allegations once Malacañang files a complaint against them.
The Supreme Court is one of the beneficiaries of the P900 -million European Union grant called Governance Justice (Go Just) that will be implemented in the next three years. The grant aims to facilitate judicial reforms and increase the capacity of judicial sector such as courts to effectively perform tasks.
CJ Sereno who was keynote speaker at the EU-Philippines Justice support forum last week said carrying out justice reforms in the country “is a long term goal.” But she stressed it must be done systematically because “cynicism of people will come back if we fail beyond 2016.”
“If justice is to be advanced in this country, it has to be done systematic manner, “Sereno said in a speech.
She also urged media to continue its interest “to find out if justice is improving in the country.”
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