Human Rights Current Affairs

Philippines withdraws from International Criminal Court

Philippines has announced to withdraw from International Criminal Court (ICC) citing reason of international bias and held that ICC was being utilised as a political tool against it. It will make Philippines only second country to withdraw from the Rome statute, following Burundi in 2017. South Africa attempted to leave in 2016, but its withdrawal was revoked by UN.

Key Facts

Philippines had ratified Rome statute related to Hague-based ICC in 2011. Its ratification was seen as big step forward for human rights in Asia. Now its withdrawal is seen as blow for international accountability in the region.

The ICC in February 2018 had announced that it was launching preliminary examination of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-drug crackdown that has drawn international concern. It is clamed that nearly 4,000 drug suspects were killed as part of campaign, while human rights groups claim the toll is around three times the numbers given by authorities.

International Criminal Court (ICC)

ICC is the world’s first intergovernmental legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is based in The Hague, Netherlands. It began its functioning on 1 July 2002, the date that Rome Statute entered into force. It has 123 member states (India is not its member). The Rome Statute is multilateral treaty which serves as ICC’s foundational and governing document. India has not signed Rome Statute. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals and is independent of United Nations (UN). But it may receive case referrals from UN Security Council and can initiate prosecutions without UN action or referral.

Note: US signed the treaty (Rome Statute) in 2000 but never ratified it, citing concerns over sovereignty, similarly with Russia. Israel signed it for a short period but also never ratified it into law. China has not signed it.


NHRC retains its ‘A’ status of accreditation with GANHRI

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has retained its ‘A’ status of accreditation of Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) for fourth consecutive term. NHRC was awarded ‘A’ status for first time in 1999 which it retained in 2006 and 2011 reviews. The Sub Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of GANHRIs had recommended that NHRC be reaccredited with “A” status..

What it means?

The accreditation is given to those human rights institutions, which after rigorous process of review every five years are found fully compliant with UN-mandated Paris Principles. ‘A’ status accreditation also grants participation in the work and decision-making of the GANHRI, as well as the work of the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms.

GANHRI accreditation system

The GANHRI accreditation system has evolved and been strengthened over past years. It measures that GANHRI adopted to improve process including system by which NHRIs are reviewed on periodic basis of 5 years, appeal process for NHRIs to ensure greater transparency and due process, more rigorous review of each application, more focused recommendations and wider distribution and greater knowledge of SCA recommendations by NHRIs and other stakeholders, so that they can follow up in-country and contribute to the accreditation process.

Paris Principles

The Paris Principles were adopted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1993. It requires human right commissions to protect human rights, including by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints, mediating conflicts and monitoring activities. It also promotes human rights, through education, outreach, media, publications, training and capacity building, as well as advising and assisting government. According to Paris Principles, human right commissions should have autonomy from government, independence guaranteed by statute or constitution, pluralism, adequate resources and adequate powers of investigation.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

NHRC is apex statutory watchdog of human rights in the country, i.e. the rights related to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the international convents. It was established as per the statutory provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. It is multimember body consisting of Chairman and four members. President appoints the Chairman and members of the NHRC on the recommendation of the high-powered committee headed by the Prime Minister.