Friday, March 17, 2006

UN CASES FILED IN UNITED NATIONS TODAY: UN REQUESTED TO SEND RAPPORTEUR TO INVESTIGATE ARBITRARY DETENTION OF REP. CRISPIN BELTRAN

News Report

A complaint against Pres. Gloria Arroyo and the Philippine government for the illegal arrest and arbitrary detention of Rep. Crispin Beltran was filed today with the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) in New York and the Working Group for Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) in Geneva, Switzerland. The complaint, filed by Rep. Beltran through CODAL lawyer Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, was received by Marcus Schmidt head of the Petitions Unit of the UN HRC and was immediately transmitted to Mr. Pierre del Prado of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The complaint cited the illegal arrest and arbitrary detention of Rep. Beltran as violations by Pres. Arroyo and the Philippine government of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights law. The complaint claims that :

(i) Rep. Beltran was arrested on the basis of his political beliefs. The warrant used in arresting Rep. Beltran was based on a 1985 case that was dismissed after Pres. Marcos was overthrown in 1986 for being one of the politically motivated cases filed by Marcos against legitimate dissenters. By using that same case to arrest Beltran, Pres. Arroyo is essentially imprisoning Rep. Beltran for his political beliefs and not for any criminal act committed by him. This is strictly prohibited under international law.

(ii) Rep. Beltran remains in custody despite the absence of any judicial order for his detention. In fact, he was ordered released by a Quezon City RTC on 13 March 2006. No person can be detained merely because a case or information has been filed against him or her. There must be a warrant or an Order of Commitment issued by a court to make such detention legal.

The complaint asked the United Nations to :

a. Express concern over the arbitrary arrest and continuing detention of Rep. Beltran and threats of warrantless arrests against other members of the opposition.
b. Urge Pres. Arroyo and Gen. Arturo Lomibao to desist from conducting warrantless arrests against known opposition personalities from people’s organizations, and process their arrest through a judicially issued warrant.

c. Immediately send a special rapporteur to investigate the case of Rep. Beltran and submit a report to the UN. The UN is also asked to request the release of Rep. Beltran pending such investigation.

A complaint against Pres. Arroyo for the summary execution of activists Eden Marcellana, Choy Napoles, Benjaline Hernandez and Eddie Gumanoy was also filed with the UN Human Rights Committee.

Civil Libertarians and human rights lawyers are seriously concerned about the failure of government to follow judicial procedures in conducting arrests, in threatening and raiding media offices and dispersing rallies, and it is hoped that UN intervention may force government to follow legal and constitutional processes in its dealing with opposition.

Reference Person: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares
News Report Date: March 17, 2006

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