EJK, ELK | Centerlaw to seek new ‘Writ Contra Homo Sacer’

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MANILA – The Center for International Law (CENTERLAW) will file with the Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 26, a Letter-Petition asking the High Court to issue a new “Contra homo sacer” rule for the effective prevention and investigation of Extra-Legal Killings, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, Enforced Disappearances and Torture in connection with the ongoing drug war of the Duterte administration.

Lawyers of the Center plan to submit the 28-page Letter-Petition at 11:30 am.

According to Romel R. Bagares, Executive Director of Centerlaw, the team drafted the Letter-Petition first as citizens, and second, as lawyers who are also officers of the Court “with a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws, regarding a continuing scourge that has stricken our land.”

“It is a scourge that has sought to remove a certain class of persons from the protection of the law, thus rendering them… as no more than homo sacer,” they want to say in their Letter-Petition, “or beings reduced to mere biological existence, denied of all rights, marked for execution anytime and anywhere, completely under the mercy of executioners acting directly or indirectly at the State’s behest.”

Under the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court is uniquely empowered to draft Rules for the protection of Constitutional rights.

The Letter-Petition seeks to address the Philippine National Police’s stated position that the cases of drug suspects killed in police operations in alleged shootouts or by vigilantes – now numbering at least 5,000 – are not extralegal or extrajudicial killings.

Following standards set by the UN Minnesota Protocol and the UN Principles on Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal Killings, Centerlaw is proposing to the Court that it adopt a new inquest procedure for deaths arising from police operations or from vigilante killings.

The new inquest procedure will ensure that the deaths are investigated promptly, thoroughly, impartially and effectively to allay suspicions of any foul play.

The process includes the meticulous preparation and submission of all relevant documentary and forensic evidence, including autopsy reports consistent with international standards.