PROPOSED amendments to the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007 would allow government authorities to violate human rights, according to the International Commission of Jurists.
Tackled at the House of Representatives on Monday was the Draft Substitute Bill to House Bills 7141 and 5507 entitled,”An Act Amending Republic Act No. 9372 entitled ‘An Act to Secure the State and Protect our People from Terrorism,’” otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007.
The ICJ, in its position paper submitted to the Technical Working Group of the House Committees on Public Order and Safety and on National Defense and Security, flagged the said amendments as being inconsistent with international laws and standards on human rights.
With the amendments, the public’s protection cannot be guaranteed, amid “unfettered surveillance power and arbitrary deprivation of the right to liberty and… to privacy, information, redress, and freedom of opinion and expression,” ICJ said.
“The proposed amendments do not address the existing flaws of the HSA. For instance, the definition of acts of terrorism under the HSA is vague and ambiguous and the proposed changes do not in any way remedy that,” Emerlynne Gil, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser, said in a statement Sunday.
The Philippine government has the undeniable duty to protect people from acts of terrorism committed by non-State actors, but it cannot use as a pretext the serious nature of terrorist acts to avoid its obligations under international human rights law,” said Ms. Gil.
The draft bill will also remove access to remedy, information and privacy of persons subject to surveillance under Sections 8 to 12 and grant the military the responsibility for countering terrorism in the performance of a policing function under Sections 8 to 13, 18, 19 and 24.
Moreover, Section 18 of the draft bill also allows detention of up to 30 days without judicial warrant of arrest, and Section 19 which subjects “suspects” to continued detention in the event of an actual or imminent terrorist attack. The ICJ proposed reducing the detention period to 48 hours, in compliance with international law.
“We strongly urge the joint Technical Working Group to rethink these proposed amendments and to allow more time for consideration and debate on revisions of the law,” ICJ said.
ICJ, established in 1952, is made distinguished judges and lawyers from around the world.