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UN rights official seeks amendment or repeal of
anti-terror law
THE United Nations is calling on the next Congress to amend or repeal the Human Security Act of 2007,
citing its threat to human rights.
Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental
freedoms while countering terrorism, said the implementation of the law, which was signed by President
Arroyo on March 6, "could have a negative impact on human rights in the country and undermine the rule
of law."
The law takes effect in July, or two months after the elections.
"During this interim period, I encourage the legislative branch… to reconsider this new counter-terrorism
law… It is my hope that there will be further debate which may result in the introduction of specific
amendments or repeal of the entire act by the new Congress," Scheinin said in a statement posted at the
United Nations at Genera website.
Scheinin said there are some positive aspects of the definition of "terrorist acts" in the new law but the end
result is an "overly broad definition which is seen to be at variance with the principle of legality and thus
incompatible with Article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)."
Article 15 states: "No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offense on account of any act or omission
which did not constitute a criminal offense, under national or international law, at the time when it was
committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time when the
criminal offense was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of the offense, provision is made by law
for the imposition of the lighter penalty, the offender shall benefit thereby."
It further states: "Nothing in this article shall prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or
omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law
recognized by the community of nations."
On the penalty for terrorism, which is 40 years imprisonment without the benefit of parole, Scheinin said its
strict application "undermines judicial discretion in individual cases and may result in a disproportionate
punishment due to the broad definition of terrorist acts."
Scheinin also said that while there has been "some improvement" on the length of pre-charge detention in
the final version of the law, there is a further concern regarding the competence of bodies authorized to
review detention of an individual. Some of these, he said, are members of the executive rather than an
independent judicial body.
"Thus, Section 19 of the Human Security Act appears to lack the procedural guarantees provided by Article
9 of the ICCPR," Scheinin said.
Section 19 says everyone has the right to liberty and security of person and that no one shall be subjected to
arbitrary arrest or detention.
The law states that persons suspected of being terrorists could be detained without a warrant for three days
or more in the event of an actual or imminent terrorist attack. An earlier version of the bill provides for a
15-day detention.
Scheinin said another area of concern is that the law provides for restrictions on movements, including the
imposition of house arrest where the legal basis is simply "in cases where evidence of guilt is not strong"
rather than positive suspicion or a higher evidentiary threshold.
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"The Philippines is a country facing many challenging issues and I wish to reaffirm that I am fully
conscious of the need to take effective measures to prevent and counter terrorism, and of the difficulties of
states in doing so without compromising the freedoms of a civil society. However, I am concerned that
many provisions of the Human Security Act are not in accordance with international human rights
standards," he said.
The militant group League of Filipino Students urged government to listen to Scheinin.
Vencer Crisostomo, LFS national chairperson, said: "With Arroyo's track record of repressive policies such
as the calibrated pre-emptive response, EO 464, and Proclamation 1017, and the AFP's record of human
rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, the Human Security Act shall only legitimize their efforts
to stifle dissent," said Crisostomo.
Ron Villegas, LFS information officer, called on candidates to make a stand against the anti-terror law.
"Mr. Scheinin has called for the new Congress elected this May to amend, if not repeal the Human Security
Act. We therefore urge the candidates to make their position as early as now. We know that their stand on
the issue shall have an effect on who the people shall vote for this May," said Villegas. Czeriza Valencia

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UN rights official seeks amendment or repeal of anti-terror law THE United Nations is calling on the next Congress to amend or repeal the Human Security Act of 2007, citing its threat to human rights. Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, said the implementation of the law, which was signed by President Arroyo on March 6, "could have a negative impact on human rights in the country and undermine the rule of law." The law takes effect in July, or two months after the elections. "During this interim period, I encourage the legislative branch… to reconsider this new counter-terrorism law… It is my hope that there will be further debate which may result in the introduction of specific amendments or repeal of the entire act by the new Congress," Scheinin said in a statement posted at the United Nations at Genera website. Scheinin said there are some positive aspects of the definition of "terrorist acts" in the new law but the end result is an "overly broad definition which is seen to be at variance with the principle of legality and thus incompatible with Article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)." Article 15 states: "No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offense, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time when the criminal offense was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of the offense, provision is made by law for the imposition of the lighter penalty, the offender shall benefit thereby." It further states: "Nothing in this article shall prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations." On the penalty for terrorism, which is 40 years imprisonment without the benefit of parole, Scheinin said its strict application "undermines judicial discretion in individual cases and may result in a disproportionate punishment due to the broad definition of terrorist acts." Scheinin also said that while there has been "some improvement" on the length of pre-charge detention in the final version of the law, there is a further concern regarding the competence of bodies authorized to review detention of an individual. Some of these, he said, are members of the executive rather than an independent judicial body. "Thus, Section 19 of the Human Security Act appears to lack the procedural guarantees provided by Article 9 of the ICCPR," Scheinin said. Section 19 says everyone has the right to liberty and security of person and that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. The law states that persons suspected of being terrorists could be detained without a warrant for three days or more in the event of an actual or imminent terrorist attack. An earlier version of the bill provides for a 15-day detention. Scheinin said another area of concern is that the law provides for restrictions on movements, including the imposition of house arrest where the legal basis is simply "in cases where evidence of guilt is not strong" rather than positive suspicion or a higher evidentiary threshold. "The Philippines is a country facing many challenging issues and I wish to reaffirm that I am fully conscious of the need to take effective measures to prevent and counter terrorism, and of the difficulties of states in doing so without compromising the freedoms of a civil society. However, I am concerned that many provisions of the Human Security Act are not in accordance with international human rights standards," he said. The militant group League of Filipino Students urged government to listen to Scheinin. Vencer Crisostomo, LFS national chairperson, said: "With Arroyo's track record of repressive policies such as the calibrated pre-emptive response, EO 464, and Proclamation 1017, and the AFP's record of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, the Human Security Act shall only legitimize their efforts to stifle dissent," said Crisostomo. Ron Villegas, LFS information officer, called on candidates to make a stand against the anti-terror law. "Mr. Scheinin has called for the new Congress elected this May to amend, if not repeal the Human Security Act. We therefore urge the candidates to make their position as early as now. We know that their stand on the issue shall have an effect on who the people shall vote for this May," said Villegas. – Czeriza Valencia Name: Description: ...
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