Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An inutile CHR

Umasa ka pa, maliban sa maliliit, barya-baryang nasusungkit nito sa International Human Right funding institution, saan ba nanggagaling ang malaking pondo ng Commission on Human Right (CHR), sino ba ang nagtalaga sa kanila (nag-appoint), sino ang padrino, 'di ba ang Malakanyang, si Ate Glo? Kahit sabihing pang may "independent character" kuno ang CHR, vulnerable ito sa supalpalang suhol, sa kinang ng salapi na karaniwan ng ginagawa ng mga operador ng Malakanyang; mula sa LPP-ULAP, Kongreso, mga Generals sa AFP, Media at Simbahan, nasusupalpalan.

WEAK ang ating mga institusyon. Bilang na lamang sa daliri ang may buto sa gulugud na ahensyang gubyerno. Magsimula tayo sa mga regulatory commission, mga nasalaulang demokratikong institution ng estado, ang Comelec, Kongreso at Political Party.
- Doy Cinco

‘If members of the CHR are oblivious to the High Court’s initiatives to strengthen protection of human rights, they might as well resign.’

The Commission on Human Rights, set up by the 1987 Constitution to prevent a repeat of the abuses under the Marcos regime, is turning out to be incapable of fulfilling its mandate. Instead of serving as the lead protector of human rights, it is taking the backseat to other institutions, the Supreme Court in particular, in carrying out its task.

Recently the CHR closed its investigation in the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos. Burgos remains missing. His body, assuming he is no longer alive, has not been found. This is a live case by any investigative standard. Of all agencies, the CHR should be the last to sweep the Burgos abduction under the rug.

Rubbing salt on the injury, the CHR blamed Jonas mother, Edita, citing her alleged lack of cooperation. The CHR said Edita refused to testify, so there was no longer any need for hearings. The investigation, therefore, had to be wound up.
The complete piece is at:

Saudis back rape victim sentence

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have defended a judicial sentence of 200 lashes for a rape victim. The justice ministry said in a statement that the sentence was justified because the woman was in a car with an unrelated man.

The case has aroused controversy at home and condemnation abroad.
US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said the sentence was an outrage and urged President Bush to put pressure on Saudi King Abdullah.

The 19-year-old, who has not been named, was travelling in a car with a male friend last year, when the car was attacked by a gang of seven men who raped both of them. She has become known as the "Qatif girl", a reference to the largely Shia town which she comes from.

Four of the men were convicted of kidnapping - but the court also sentenced the woman and her friend to receive 90 lashes each for the crime of "illegal mingling".
The complete piece is at:

November 21, 2007
Justice too long delayed
By Elizabeth Becker
On a clear tropical morning last week, the police arrived at a villa here and arrested Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, carefully explaining legal procedures to the elderly Khmer Rouge leaders.

It had been nearly 30 years since the overthrow of the regime of the infamous "killing fields," in which an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians perished. Yet in all those years no one had been held accountable for one of the worst crimes against humanity of the last century.

Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader, died a free man in 1998. Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister, and Ieng Thirith, the former minister of social affairs, both close associates of Pol Pot, had lived openly under an amnesty granted them in 1996 - one likely to be raised in their trials for crimes against humanity.

They are among five Khmer Rouge leaders, regarded as the most culpable for the killing fields of those still alive, who are to be tried by a special court created with United Nations assistance. The tribunal held its first open hearing this week.

But this trial comes far too late. The decades of impunity have already taken a heavy toll on attitudes toward law and justice. I covered the rise of the Khmer Rouge and was in Cambodia for two harrowing weeks once they were in power. In the years that followed, I was appalled at the ability of the leaders to avoid prosecution.

There was more than enough evidence against them. But in the final days of the Cold War, China and the United States needed the Khmer Rouge to oppose the Soviet Union. After that, the regime of Hun Sen, himself a former low-level Khmer Rouge leader, resisted a trial, saying it was not necessary to open old wounds.

The complete piece is at:

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