Rights advocates defend ICC mechanism to protect people
Human rights campaigners defended the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICC) from President Rodrigo Duterte, reminding him that these were mechanisms to protect the people from impunity and prevent despotic leaders “from getting away with murder.”
“This would be promoting impunity rather than protecting the people from impunity,” said Jose Manuel Diokno, national president of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and dean of the De La Salle University College of Law.
Diokno told the Inquirer by phone on Wednesday that the President’s decision would only make it more difficult “for anyone to hold government officials accountable” for violations of crimes against humanity and grave violations of human rights.
Diokno is the son of the late Sen. Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno, regarded as the father of human rights advocacy in the Philippines. The elder Diokno was the founding chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
It was quite proper that on Thursday, the CHR was the venue of the press conference held by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC), a network of non-government organizations that worked for the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute.
“When despotic leaders and authoritarian leaders try to defend themselves against the principles of the Rome Statute and other instruments [like the ICC], we should always take into account that these instruments were crafted for the protection of the people against such crimes against humanity,” said Etta Rosales, former PCICC chairman.
It was quite the reverse with the President’s men, Rosales said. “Why are they protecting him? The ICC was set up precisely to try despotic leaders who get away with murder because impunity is the central question, the abuse of power,” she said.
“The context of these international instruments is always for the protection of the people in accordance with the International Declaration of Human Rights,” Rosales stressed.
Incumbent PCICC chairman Ray Paolo Santiago said that Mr. Duterte ought “to change his mind and realize that this is not about him.”
“This is a mechanism that would address impunity for the benefit of the Filipino people,” he said.
Santiago added that withdrawing from the ICC was an admission to the international community that “we are a rogue state.”
“When you say you are a rogue state, you don’t want the international community to look into what is happening your country… As a member of the international community you are accountable to all other members because this is part and parcel of humanity. Seeing that you don’t want to be held accountable means you don’t care about the international community,” Santiago said.
Santiago said that recognizing these instruments that protect the people meant a state upholds human rights standards. “No country has a perfect record. And that is where each and every state can help each other in attaining that. And who are the beneficiaries? it is the people,” Santiago said.
The bottomline of the preliminary examination of the ICC is that the international community wants the Philippine government to end the extrajudicial killings, CHR commissioner Roberto Cadiz said.
“This is a very serious issue and the government must face this squarely. It cannot sweep this under the rug. It cannot trivialize issue. This is a serious issue. The ICC guys are professionals. They have solid reputations, they cannot be intimidated. The government cannot propagandize or politicize this issue,” Cadiz said. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.