Human Rights Body's Power to Prosecute Proposed

Article excerpt

Senator Francis Escudero Monday filed a bill granting the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) prosecutorial powers over delineated human rights cases to meet the rising demands of victims and the general public over human rights violations.

In filing Senate Bill 106, Escudero said the measure aims to revisit the CHR jurisdiction which has been categorically called a "toothless tiger" due to its ineffectiveness to properly address human rights issues.

Escudero said the CHR's authority is lamentably limited only to political and civil rights, thus, its powers to resolve human rights cases filed before its office have been found futile.

"Hence, this bill basically seeks to strengthen the Commission by providing an effective and expanded structural and functional organization to meet the demands of human rights cases here and abroad," Escudero explained.

"By providing the Commission with prosecutorial powers over delineated forms of human rights violations, it is hoped that the Commission will be able to meet the rising demands from victims of human rights violations and the general public for an effective and speedy resolution of all human rights cases filed with the CHR," he said.

Citing the case of Carino vs. Commission on Human Rights on Dec. 2, 1991, he said the CHR has been observed to be neither a judicial nor a quasi-judicial body.

"It can only extend preventive measures, such as initiating applications in court for judicial writs and orders, conduct investigation and receive evidence of violations of human rights, among others," Escudero said.

The above ruling, he said, is reiterated in the case of Simon Jr. et al vs.

CHR in Jan. 5, 1994 which revisited the powers and functions of the CHR vis-a-vis the implementation of Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. …