Tag Archives: Las Palmas

Thoughts on the continuing relevance of the State

In the international legal system, the state is the primary domestic institution charged with the task of ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights.

This is so for the following reasons:

* States are the principal parties to human rights instruments as well as to international humanitarian law conventions, and are therefore the principal instituthe_state_largetions charged with implementing them in their respective jurisdictions.

* As early as 1928 in the Las Palmas case where the Philippines lost title over the island of Las Palmas (or Miangas) to Indonesia, international law has always recognized that states, in the grant by the international legal system of sovereign and territorial rights to them, have concomitant obligations to the protection of human rights. As held by the lone arbitrator Max Huber: “Territorial sovereignty, as has already been said, involves the exclusive right to display the activities of a State. This right has a corollary, a duty: the obligation to protect within the territory the rights of other States, in particular their right to integrity and inviolability in peace and in war, together with the rights which each State may claim for its nationals in foreign territory.”

* It is true that there are now various international mechanisms to hold perpetrators of international crimes responsible for their actions; for the most part, however it is the institution of the state as a public legal community that plays a lead role in ensuring that the demands of public justice and the common good are best served within its  jurisdiction.

* The state’s law enforcement and prosecutorial arm for protecting and promoting public justice and the common good in the domestic legal order sets it apart from other societal institutions; only the state is the immediate institution in the domestic sphere entrusted with the legal duty – backed up with the force of arms – to protect and promote the Rule of Law.

* For example, the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the first permanent international tribunal with jurisdiction to hear individual crimes involving cases of gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law – generally works under the principle of “complementarity,” where the state is given the primary jurisdiction to try these cases, and the ICC only steps in when the concerned state fails to prosecute an international crime.

— taken from Romel Regalado Bagares,  Contemporary  Models of Civil Society Human Rights Engagements, in The Katarungan Manual for Human Rights Victims’ Advocacy 164-213 (2014)

Further discussions on this point from a philosophical perspective are found here and here.

 

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The deplorable Philippine government response to the Sabah standoff

Statement of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM)sabah
Let’s not even talk of the Philippine title to Sabah which the P-Noy administration is apparently still studying. Let’s just talk about basic obligations, and not just privileges of states.

As early as 1928 in the Las Palmas case where we lost title over the island of Las Palmas, international law has always recognized that states have concomitant obligations with their rights as sovereign. As held by the lone arbitrator Max Huber: “Territorial sovereignty, as has already been said, involves the exclusive right to display the activities of a State.  This right has a corollary, a duty: the obligation to protect within the territory the rights of other States, in particular their right to integrity and inviolability in peace and in war, together with the rights which each State may claim for its nationals in foreign territory”.
The right of a state to claim rights for its nationals abroad is referred to as “diplomatic protection”. Here, the duty of the state is to ensure that states treat their nationals abroad in a manner that complies with human standards recognized under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, among others documents.
In connection with the current stand-off in Sabah, this should mean that the primary obligation of the Philippine government is to ensure the safety of the 200 or so followers of the Sultanate of Sulu, as well as to ensure that Malaysia should comply with its duty to protect and promote their human rights which should include the right to life, and the right to due process of law.
Stripped of legal legalese, the Philippine government owes the Filipinos holed up in Sabah the duty to ensure that they do not become victims to extralegal killings. There is an extralegal killing when the taking of life is without due process of law. This means that before Malaysians could shoot at our countrymen, they should apprehend, prosecute and find them guilty of violating Malaysian domestic law before they are meted the penalty of death.
Government response to the stand-off has however been deplorable. Instead of taking steps to espouse the human rights of our fellowmen in Sabah, they have openly sided with Malaysian authorities and have all but warned them that their massacre is inevitable. Worse, government appeared to have ordered them to return so that they can be prosecuted criminally in the Philippines for rebellion and other crimes. With this kind of conduct by the Philippine government, who needs government to give this kind of protection?
The P-Noy administration instead should make the safety of our nationals non-negotiable. If we could plead with leaders of the world to spare convicted drug mules from being meted the death penalty, why should we not plead likewise of 200 or so our countrymen who are in Sabah to seek redress for their grievances as those with title to the island of Sabah.
 It does not help any that Philippine authorities appear ignorant of the Sabah claim despite the fact that it has been constitutionalized in article 1 of both the 1935 and 1987 Constitution. Governments’ initiatives to still study the Sabah claim brings to mind the legal saying that “ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith”. In this regard, Philippine authorities should blame themselves for their ignorance of the Sabah claim. They should certainly not be negligent in their obligation to provide protection to Filipinos overseas because of their own ignorance.
CCM, as a civil society organization that has been consistently in the forefront of the fight against the evil GMA regime, condemns and deplores the government of P-Noy for its obvious dereliction of its duty to exercise diplomatic protection to our countrymen from Sulu in Sabah. While CCM does not regret having opposed the GMA administration, for its corrupt ways,  the organization  now wonders how competent the P-Noy administration is in discharging its basic obligations such as protecting its nationals.

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Filed under Decolonization, Human Rights, Sabah claim, Self-determination, Sultanate of Sulu