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Philippines: trial court judges learn about international humanitarian law

20-06-2012 News Release 12/526

Manila (ICRC) – As a concrete step towards implementing international humanitarian law in the Philippines, some 40 regional trial court judges from Eastern Visayas took part yesterday (June 19) in a specialized training session that was the first of its kind for the judiciary in the country.

Organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA), this session was the first to cover Republic Act 9851 since the relatively recent enactment of this domestic legislation related to international humanitarian law. R.A. 9851 defines, and sets out penalties for, violations of international humanitarian law and genocide and other crimes against humanity. The training, held in Palo, Leyte, was organized for regional trial court judges as they have jurisdiction over cases to be filed under R.A. 9851.

International humanitarian law is a set of rules that aims to minimize the effects of armed conflict by protecting those who are not, or are no longer, participating in hostilities – such as civilians, or detained or wounded fighters – and by limiting the means and methods of warfare. The passage of R.A. 9851 was considered a major breakthrough in the implementation of international humanitarian law in the Philippines.

"While R.A. 9851 took effect in 2010, insufficient awareness of the law within the sectors involved in prosecuting crimes remains a challenge," said ICRC legal adviser Evecar Cruz-Ferrer. "As the guardian of international humanitarian law, the ICRC supports training that enables the judiciary to better understand this body of law. The training session just held is a positive step towards acquainting judges in the Philippines with real-life applications of international humanitarian law."

The ICRC, a recognized authority in the field of international humanitarian law, provided technical advice to the executive and legislative branches of government during the preparatory work leading to the passage of R.A. 9851 and other laws relating to the protection of people adversely affected by armed conflict. As a neutral and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC has a clear and long-established practice of not becoming involved in judicial proceedings. It plays no role in investigating, prosecuting or punishing offenses.

PHILJA Chancellor Adolfo Azcuna, a former Supreme Court justice, and Dean Sedfrey Candelaria of Ateneo Law School were among the experts who delivered lectures at the training event, the first of a series to be conducted by the ICRC and PHILJA.

The ICRC, which has been working in the Philippines for more than 50 years, reminds parties to conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law and participates in the development of this body of law. The ICRC has been visiting detainees and assisting people in need throughout the decades of internal armed conflicts in the Philippines.


For further information, please contact:
Allison Lopez, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 908 868 68 84

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PHILJA chancellor Adolfo Azcuna, a former Supreme Court justice, discusses the principles of international humanitarian law to participant judges from the Eastern Visayas region.
© ICRC / JM Sison