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SC panel to probe rights abuses

/ 04:48 AM August 28, 2016

The Supreme Court has created a panel to look into the rising cases of human rights abuses across the country, in particular to address criminal impunity and 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 reforms in the judiciary, according to the Supreme Court in its annual report, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.

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“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,” the high court’s annual report said.

The TWG also aims to monitor incidents or cases of rights abuses and address policy issues to safeguard the people’s constitutional and human rights, it said.

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Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno has criticized President Duterte’s war on drugs, which rights groups blame for the rise in extrajudicial killings which have reached more than a thousand.

She had also warned four incumbent judges publicly named by President Duterte not to surrender to police without proper warrants of arrest.

Instead, Sereno formed a fact-finding panel led by retired Supreme Court Justice Roberto A. Abad to investigate the four judges using the statement of Mr. Duterte as the complaint.

Judges Exequiel Dagala of the Municipal Trial Court Dapa-Socorro in Surigao, Adriano Savillo of Regional Trial Court Branch 30 in Iloilo City, Domingo Casiple of RTC Branch 7 in Kalibo, Aklan, and Antonio Reyes of RTC Branch 61 in Baguio City were directed to respond to the allegations once Malacañang filed a complaint against them.

Millions from EU

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court was one of the beneficiaries of the P900-million European Union grant called Governance Justice (Go Just) that would be implemented in the next three years.

The grant aims to facilitate judicial reforms and increase the capacity of the judicial sector such as courts to effectively perform their tasks.

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Sereno, who was the keynote speaker at the EU-Philippines Justice Support Forum last week, said that carrying out “justice reforms in the country is a long term goal.” But she stressed it must be done systematically because the “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 (in a) systematic manner,” Sereno said.

She urged the media “to find out if justice is improving in the country.”

The high court meanwhile is also speeding up the resolution of criminal cases to decongest jails across Metro Manila as part of its reforms.

The SC pilot-tested the Manila City Jail under Task Force Katarungan at Kalayaan along with the establishment of a Detainee’s Notebook. TVJ

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TAGS: Criminal Impunity and Human Rights abuses, human rights abuses, Judiciary, policy reforms, Supreme Court, technical working group, TWG
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