World Day of Justice
Last Tuesday, July 17, was World Day of Justice. The day marked a milestone in the history of international law and international justice. Nine years ago, in 1998, 120 states attending the Plenipotentiary Conference in Rome adopted the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC). As of today, 139 states have signed and 105 have ratified.
It should be noted that while celebrations were taking place all over the world, here in the Philippines a summit on extrajudicial killings attended by stakeholders from civil society, the government and the church, as well as legal experts and individuals in search for justice, was taking place.
Here are some pertinent facts about the ICC. The ICC is the first permanent international judicial body capable of trying individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.
The ICC represents one of the significant opportunities for the world to prevent or significantly reduce the deaths and devastation that result from conflicts. The Rome Statute of the ICC came into force on July 1, 2002 and since then, much has been achieved with the establishment of the court. Located at the Hague in the Netherlands, the court is now a fully-functional institution. The senior court officials are seated in place and are proceeding with formal investigations.
“Birthday parties” were held in many parts of the world last Tuesday and here in the Philippines, NGOs held a forum and a film showing.
One significant development is Japan’s formal ratification of the ICC treaty yesterday at the United Nations headquarters in New York. With Japan in, 105 states have ratified the ICC treaty. There are more than 30 other countries that have signed but have not ratified it. The Philippines is among them.
Last year, the Senate, the House and the Commission on Human Rights made resolutions for the ratification of the statute. But President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has not transmitted the document to Congress so that the ratification would be done.
Most of the world’s democracies (all but one European Union government), most of sub-Saharan Africa, most of Latin America and the Caribbean have joined the ICC.
The ICC budget is about 90 million euros a year and Japan will assume about 19 percent of it. Japan has also nominated a judicial candidate for election to the court in December.
Universal ratification and greater cooperation from governments in securing arrests are among the ICC’s important goals. The international support for the ICC shows the growing consensus that impunity on the part of perpetrators of massive atrocities will no longer be tolerated. There is a court of last resort to which the aggrieved could go.
The court is currently investigating grave mass crimes in four countries: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic. It has issued seven arrest warrants.
Later this year, the court will begin hearing the case against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo on the use of child soldiers.
The Philippine Coalition of the ICC is a network of individuals and organizations committed to generate support for the ICC through information and lobbying so that the Philippine government would ratify the Rome Statute. It is part of an international network of about 2,000 civil society groups that support the universal acceptance of the ICC.
Today the court is truly international, permanent, fully functional and becoming attuned to the cries of affected communities. It reflects the major legal systems of all geographic regions of the world and it can hold individuals accountable for massive crimes.
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Good PCIJ stuff. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) is donating hundreds of books and other publications on investigative journalism and related topics to institutions and individuals who have need for them. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +632 9293117 for the titles and how to get them.
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Good Samaritans in cyberspace. Have you ever encountered major problems with your computer, like desperately trying to retrieve files that vanished? And cried buckets?
My email folders containing about four years of mail (some from readers included), attachments, images and documents suddenly vanished. For two weeks all efforts to retrieve them from where they lay hidden did not work. Although I am right-brained (writers and artists usually are), I followed website to-dos in sequence and I must have earned a doctorate in computer software tinkering, but still no results.
I sought help from God of cyberspace and I got a response from the Pinoy blog Couch Camote of Ruben Canlas Jr. who turned out to be the CEO of Dig It All (as in digital) Solutions.
He and the Good Samaritans of his office (open-source advocates with strong left brains) came to my rescue and made me a charity case even though I was willing to pay an arm and a leg. It took a whole day of work to retrieve my files, but the effort was worth it, thanks to Ruben, Data and Lee.
As journalists we always seem to know where to find help for others in need. Then suddenly we are the needy.
Dig It All is mainly into website development and is on the 19th floor of Medical Plaza on San Miguel Avenue in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Phone +632 9107788; http://digitalsolutions.ph. Their clientele is quite impressive.
But hey guys, you brought me in from the cold, even carried my clunky PC from the parking lot to your office, and gave me aid. May blessings rain down on you. I will pay your goodness forward.
Indeed, there are Good Samaritans even in the cyberhighways.