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FOCUS March 2002 Volume 27

Human Rights Accountability

(editorial)

The 1992 Hawaii court decision declaring former Philippine President, Ferdinand E. Marcos, responsible for causing forced disappearances, summary execution and torture was unprecedented. It awarded compensation to some 10,000 Filipino victims. The full implementation of the decision however encountered legal problems.

Recently, a special Indonesian human rights court started hearing the complaint against former East Timor provincial government officials as well as military officers for the violence in East Timor during the 1999 independence vote. Cases are expected to be filed before the Cambodian court against some of the former top leaders of Khmer Rouge. Whether these cases will give justice to the East Timorese and Cambodian victims of human rights violations is still to be seen. Some doubt the capability of domestic courts in Asia to dispense justice to human rights violation victims especially when influential persons are involved. If the domestic courts fail, where will the victims go?,

Probably the International Criminal Court is an answer. But this court can only cover States that have ratified the Rome Statute, which will create it. It will also be covering crimes committed after its establishment. In any case, Asian States have to show their commitment to human rights by helping make the International Criminal Court start doing its job at the soonest time possible. Ratifying the Rome Statute is an essential first step.


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