Prosecutor in Cambodia's genocide tribunal to deliver RP lecture
MANILA, Philippines - A top government lawyer in Cambodia’s genocide trials will visit the Philippines to deliver a lecture on the prosecution of grave crimes against international human rights and international humanitarian law.
Robert Petit, the head counsel in an international tribunal which will try war criminals of Cambodia’s communist Khmer Rouge, will deliver a keynote speech and a lecture at an international training conference to be held at the Vista Marina Hotel in Subic Bay from June 16 to 17, 2008.
A former Quebec and Canadian Federal (Crown) prosecutor, Petit shares the chief prosecutor’s role in the Cambodian genocide trials with his Cambodian counterpart, Chea Leang. He will speak at the Subic conference side by side with new Commission on Human Rights chair Leila De Lima, who will lecture on Philippine State Obligations on the Right to Life.
Also speaking at the landmark conference is top forensic anthropologist Dr. Jose Pablo Baraybar, who heads the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team, one of several Latin American groups investigating the complicity of former dictatorships in acts of impunity. The organization has documented some 13,000 cases of enforced disappearances, almost 4,000 more than the estimate of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The two-day conference is envisioned as a complement to the Seminar Workshop on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances by the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)).
Around 30 public prosecutors from the Department of Justice and a comparable number of human rights activists and workers have been invited to join the conference, which features speakers from various international criminal tribunals who will share their expertise with their Filipino counterparts.
“This activity is a follow-up to an international conference on the same theme that CenterLaw staged in Davao early this year," said Prof. Harry L. Roque Jr., one of the organizers of the Subic conference.
He said the conference aims to acquaint Filipino prosecutors about developments abroad in the campaign against impunity, noting that the Philippines has been in the spotlight before the eyes of the international community because of the rising cases of human rights violations in the country since the Arroyo administration took power in 2001.
“The establishment of the war crimes tribunal where Mr. Petit is a top prosecutor is in fact a warning to governments that in this day and age of human rights movements, impunity cannot remain unpunished forever," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Baraybar’s work in Peru acquires an added significance today following the extradition to Peru of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, under whose regime many of enforced disappearances of dissidents took place.
Dr. Baraybar served as an expert witness with both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and headed the Office on Missing Persons and Forensics of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.
He also recently published a major textbook on the detection of torture and related human rights abuses and is a much sought after lecturer on forensic anthropology.
Dr. Baraybar has also lectured before the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja) and was part of the sterling roster of international speakers at the first ever international conference on extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture held in Davao early this year, also organized by CenterLaw.
Dr. Baraybar will lecture at the Subic conference on the forensics of impunity, drawing from his extensive experience digging up the truth in mass graves of victims of extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Peru, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
The event will be held under the auspices of the Center for International law (CenterLaw), the American Bar Association (ABA), Rule of Law Initiative-US State Department-Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor (DRL), The Asia Foundation (TAF), the Open Society Institute (OSI), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the University of the Philippine Foundation for Integrative and Development Studies (UPFIDS).
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