Denying safe havens to criminals

Manila (The Philippines), 13 November 2012
- Faced with ongoing threats of terrorist attacks and growing transnational criminal activities, the Philippines is working - with help from UNODC - to improve its international cooperation legal framework to facilitate the extradition of criminals, thereby denying terrorists and criminals easy refuge.

At a recent workshop organized in partnership with UNODC, the Philippines Department of Justice held an inter-agency review of the Draft Proposed Amended Philippine Extradition Law, which aims to amend the Presidential Decree 1069, the existing law on extradition.

"The Philippines has a national interest in suppressing crimes, especially transnational ones," said Mr. Francisco Baraan III, Undersecretary, Department of Justice. "One way to do it is to facilitate the extradition of persons covered by treaties duly entered by our government - and thereby deny easy refuge to criminals."

The Philippines is an active member of the UNODC counter-terrorism partnership programme, "East and Southeast Asia Partnership on Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism".

"Under our counter-terrorism programme, which assists countries to strengthen their criminal justice response to transnational organized crime and terrorism, UNODC supports the Philippines with legislative modifications to the main national counter-terrorism law, the Human Security Act, as well as legislation and regulations relating to the financing of terrorism, extradition and mutual legal assistance," explained Mr. Vipon Kititasnasorchai, UNODC Terrorism Prevention Officer.

Developed in consultation with partner countries, the UNODC counter-terrorism partnership programme also works with the Philippines to develop specialist training to support more effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases.

The review and discussion was spearheaded by the State Counsels from the Legal Unit of the Department of Justice. Participants included national and international experts from Philippines government agencies including the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives; the National Bureau of Investigation; Department of Foreign Affairs and The Philippine Centre on Transnational Crime. Foreign participants included Mr. Donald D. Ashley, Department of Justice Attache at the US Embassy in Manila.

Guided by Ms. Marlyn Angeles, Senior State Counsel, workshop attendees reviewed the Philippines Extradition Law and discussed best practices from extradition cases in the Philippines, the United States and Thailand.

A similar inter-agency review workshop is planned for a Mutual Legal Assistance Law the Philippines Department of Justice recently drafted in close collaboration with UNODC.

Activities of the UNODC counter-terrorism partnership programme, "East and Southeast Asia Partnership on Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism" are financed through voluntary contributions provided by donor countries, including Austria, Canada, Denmark, EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America.