Filipino lawyers oppose presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s bid to be elected to the International Law Commission (ILC), with one group calling it “a fellow Filipino lawyer’s hypocritical ambition to reinvent himself” .
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said in a statement on Tuesday, September 14 that Roque – a former human rights lawyer – is “morally unworthy to be part of this august international legal body”.
The ILC is a body of the United Nations (UN) that helps develop legal rules and standards for adoption by UN member states. Membership of the ILC is considered a prestigious position among scholars of international law.
For defending President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies, including his persistent refusal to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), the NUPL said Roque was “even seen by many as a disgrace to the legal profession and the academic community.” .
Roque taught Public International Law (PIL) at the University of the Philippines Law School, and until President Duterte came to power, he was known in the Philippines as a human rights lawyer. man, taking charge of major public interest matters with the group he co-founded. , the Center for International Law (CenterLaw).
“We respectfully disagree in principle with this hypocritical ambition of a fellow Filipino lawyer to reinvent himself, particularly backed by an administration widely despised in the international community for its human rights abuses and fluctuating, even regressive adherence. , on vital international law and principles,” the NUPL said.
“To elect him to the Commission is to diminish his respectability, to mock his objectives and may tarnish his integrity,” he added.
“He used his expertise to undermine international law”
The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), also one of the country’s leading legal and human rights groups, has written to every member state urging them not to elect Roque.
“Although he is a law graduate and has taught public international law, he is a political supporter who has actively demonstrated his contempt for the rule of law and, with a particular interest in the Commission, undermined the supremacy of rights human rights and international law,” FLAG said in its letter sent on September 12.
FLAG urged members to take note of Roque’s public statements, including persistent denials that there are extrajudicial killings in the president’s bloody war on drugs.
“His public advocacy of extrajudicial killings, his diminishing of the jurisdiction and jurisdiction of the ICC, and his cavalier disregard for the effects of domestic human rights abuses, among other things, make him unsuited to the work of the Commission,” he said. declared FLAG.
Amid confusing transitions to new quarantine classifications in the Philippines, Roque flew to New York as member states choose the 34 ILC members.
The election will take place during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at UN General Headquarters in New York, which opened on Tuesday. Roque was nominated by the Philippines through President Duterte.
“Hahayaan ko na po ang mga estado in daigdig na magdesisyon kung karapat-dapat po ba ako na mahalal is ILC. Pero ang kwalipakisayon lang po est eksperto po sa larangan ng international law,” Roque said.
(I will let member states decide if I am worthy of being elected to the ICC. But my qualification is that I am an expert in international law.)
“He used his knowledge of international law to undermine the protections that international law provides under a human rights regime and the rule of law,” FLAG said.
The group added: “His motives for doing so are clearly for political gain as he has not been quiet about his plans to run for elected office.”
UP Diliman ExeCom: Roque ‘will diminish reputation’ of ILC
The University of the Philippines Diliman Executive Committee (ExeCom) also opposed Roque’s nomination for a seat on the ILC.
“The UP Diliman Executive Committee, at its 314th meeting held on September 13, 2021, decides to oppose the appointment of former UP faculty member Atty. Herminio “Harry” L. Roque Jr, to the International Law Commission,” said UP Diliman ExeCom.
“Atty. Roque has a very poor record of promoting, defending, and upholding human rights and the rule of law, especially under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. As a result, his inclusion in the Commission would not serve its purposes but rather diminish the reputation of the body,” he added.
The UP Diliman ExeCom is chaired by the Chancellor and has as members the Vice-Chancellors, Deans and Directors of Colleges and Schools, the University Registrar and three members elected by the University Council.
Roque is presented as one of the senatorial candidates in the 2022 national elections of the ruling party PDP-Laban. He was supposed to run for the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections, but dropped out, citing health reasons.