Press Release
August 16, 2011


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the foreign relations subcommittee, urged the Senate to concur with the ratification by Pres. Aquino of the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court.

Santiago delivered her sponsorship speech yesterday (August 16) following a public hearing where the Rome Statute was endorsed by government agencies, which included the following departments: foreign affairs, defense, justice, human rights, AFP, PNP, and National Security Council.

The Rome Statute was also strongly endorsed by the NGO called Coalition for the International Criminal Court, represented at both the Asia-Pacific and Philippine levels; and by the NGO Parliamentarians for Global Action.

"The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is arguably the most important institutional innovation since the founding of the United Nations," Santiago said.

Quoting Article 1 of the Statute, the senator said: "It shall be a permanent institution and shall have the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern . . . and shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdiction."

The "core crimes" over which the Court has jurisdiction are: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

If a state becomes a party to the Rome Statute, any past leader could be investigated and prosecuted if he commits a core crime, particularly if he is the head of state, member of the national legislature, or government official at a similarly high level.

"If the state is already investigating or prosecuting its own head of state or similar official, the Court will not intervene. But if the state is unwilling or unable to prosecute, then the Court will try the case in The Hague," Santiago said.

She said that under this arrangement, called the "principle of complementarity," the Court will act only as a court of last resort.

"There is a difference between the two major international courts of the world. While the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction only over states, the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over individuals," the senator said.

Santiago also said that under the treaty, the military commander assumes command responsibility, under certain conditions.

"By concurring with the Rome Statute, the Philippines will help the Court to end the culture of impunity, and affirm our position as a leading human rights advocate in Asia," she said.

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