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Impunity in PH guaranteed by diplomatic immunity

/ 01:27 AM May 16, 2012

Paraphrasing Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, impunity means there is a crime but there is no criminal. There is an offense or violation but no one is made accountable. This is how the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo  helped us describe its own record of human rights violations. Up to this moment, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and Arroyo, the notorious representations of human rights violations here in the Philippines, have not yet been made accountable.

Human rights violations are still being committed at an increasingly alarming rate, and yes, with impunity.

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Recently, there was another infuriating account of impunity involving a diplomat: a 19-year-old woman accused Erick Bairnals Shcks, a technical officer of the Panama Maritime Authority who holds a diplomatic passport, of rape. The Department of Foreign Affairs certified that Shcks was covered by diplomatic immunity.

The DFA, based on technical and legal grounds, is sending a message to the whole world that here in the Philippines, any person holding a diplomatic passport can rape, commit a crime and get away with it, and foreigners may mistreat and abuse women.

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What a pity our country is governed by those who cannot protect our people from abuses committed by foreigners right here in our own homeland. Government officials would rather invoke laws to allow an assailant to escape responsibility for his crime rather than find ways to give a rape victim justice, the culture of impunity further shielded by diplomatic immunity.

What could be worse than this?

The dignity of all persons must be protected at all costs.  Laws and policies must serve the purpose of defending  the lowly, protecting the violated and ensuring justice. But when the so-called “diplomatic immunity” is  being invoked to free the offender, what justice awaits the victim?

Freeing Shcks shows how this country has fallen short in defending its sovereignty and pursuing justice.

It’s more fun in the Philippines. Diplomats and anybody can  come and visit here, commit crimes and then leave scot-free. Impunity guaranteed! Trust the DFA.

—NORMA P. DOLLAGA,

Kasimbayan Women’s Collective,

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TAGS: crime, DFA, Diplomacy, Diplomatic Immunity, Erick Bairnals Shcks, human rights, impunity, Panama, Rape
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