Remulla to UN Human Rights Council: PH will not tolerate 'external interference'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the Philippines will not tolerate “unjustified external interference” in its probe into alleged crimes committed during the anti-illegal drug campaign of the Duterte administration.

In his speech at the UNHRC’s 52nd session, Remulla asserted the country’s sovereignty.

“The Philippines has a fully functioning justice system under the complementarity test. The ICC (International Criminal Court), therefore, has no jurisdiction over Filipino citizens whatsoever,” Remulla said.

“Let us heed the lessons of the past. Unjustified external interference has very rarely if at all, served the cause of human rights,” he added.

READ: EXPLAINER: ICC and its authority

Remulla also insisted that the Philippines will “draw the line” when an international body, such as the ICC, “overreaches and departs from the boundaries of its creation.”

He reiterated the Marcos administration’s rejection of the ICC’s authorized resumption to resume its probe into human rights violations reportedly committed during the Duterte administration’s anti-drug war.

RELATED: Senators file resolutions opposing ICC drug war probe, defending ex-President Duterte 

Citing the Philippines’ “tradition of open, constructive and active engagement on human rights” with the UN and the international stakeholders, Remulla proceeded to enumerate the instances when the country discussed the issue of accountability for the killings, such as the Universal Periodic Review of the UNHRC where it accepted 215 out of 289 recommendations from member-states.

“Let me assure this Council and partners and civil society and reiterate: there is no culture of impunity in the Philippines. We are doubling our efforts in ensuring individuals who have breached the bounds of law, state actors included, meet justice,” he said.

Remulla added that extrajudicial killing “has never been a state policy.”

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber has declared that the country’s initiatives and proceedings “do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps in a way that would sufficiently mirror the Court’s investigation.”

The chamber also pointed out that none of the thousands killed amid the war on drugs were high-ranking officials.

But Remulla insisted that the justice system is a “cornerstone” of the country’s “accountability mechanism” and reiterated his appeal for respecting the country’s sovereignty.

He also suggested to the international body to focus more on enabling states to fulfill their obligations.

The Department of Justice (DPJ) recently invited to the Philippines forensic expert and UN special rapporteur Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz to set up a program for Filipino doctors, prosecutors and law enforcers to train them in forensic pathology.

“We exhort the United Nations Human Rights Council to make capacity-building on forensic pathology as a program to afford all countries the same science-based investigations,” he added.

Remulla also announced “bold and transformative” reforms that the DOJ has been pursuing to comply with international human rights conventions.

“Under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Philippines reaffirms its solemn and continuing commitment to human rights and human dignity for all,” he said.