Thursday, 10 March 2011 14:14
THE Aquino Administration has ratified and endorsed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), sending a message to the international community that it is committed to upholding and protecting human rights.
Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Sunday that President Aquino III signed on February 28 the Instrument of Ratification of the treaty, which provides for the establishment the of the ICC, and had asked the Senate for its concurrence.
“Ratification of the Rome Statute enhances Philippine commitment to human rights and is our contribution to an effective international criminal justice system,” Ochoa said.
“It complements Republic Act No. 9851, which enables our country on its own to prosecute international crimes and strengthens human rights’ enforcement in our country,” he added.
Republic Act No. 9851, or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity, was signed into law in December 2009. It is said to be the country’s version of the International Humanitarian Law.
According to Ochoa, the ICC is the first permanent institution having power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concerns such as the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, and is seen to help end impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.
“It adopts the principle of complementarity that recognizes a State’s right to exercise jurisdiction over these crimes. Meaning, the ICC will only act if such State is unable or unwilling to carry out the investigation and prosecution of the crime,” Ochoa explained.
The Rome Statute adheres to the general principles of criminal law and exclusion of jurisdiction over persons under 18 years old, he added.
In a meeting convened by the Presidential Human Rights Commission in September last year, the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Foreign Affairs (DFA) and National Defense (DND) agreed to recommend the ratification of the Rome Statute by the President and subsequently transmit it to the Senate for concurrence.
The DFA has recommended the timely transmittal of the Rome Statute to the Senate in view of the visit of ICC President Sang-Hyun Song from March 7 to 8 in the country.
The Philippines is one of the countries that drafted the 1998 treaty. Former Acting Permanent Representative to the U.N. Enrique Manalo signed it in December 2000.
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