UN expert coming to help upgrade PH forensic capabilities

By Benjamin Pulta

November 21, 2022, 6:05 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has invited a special rapporteur from the United Nations (UN) to improve the government’s forensic pathology capabilities as part of efforts to address extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

In a press briefing Monday on the recently concluded fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines human rights situation in Geneva, Switzerland, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said upgrading the skill will also be helpful during disasters.

Remulla said forensic doctor Morris Tidball-Binz will be arriving in the country, along with two other rapporteurs for children and human rights, in the early part of 2023.

“(I)f there are murders or there are deaths that are untimely in the provinces, at least they can help us with investigations. If our people are trained already in the art and the science of forensic pathology, then we will have experts determining the results,” Remulla said.

“But the other side of it of course is the long term, the capacity building for disasters. Remember (Supertyphoon) Yolanda (in November 2013) where there were thousands of bodies that had to be processed? International pathologists went here to help us,” Remulla said.

Tidball-Binz began his career with forensic and human rights organizations and helped create the International Committee of the Red Cross’ forensic unit, of which he was the first director until early 2017.

Remulla said the country’s outright acceptance of 200 out of the 279 recommendations made during the UPR was groundbreaking.

“It was very fruitful and enlightening and of course, very satisfying that we saw the attitude change within the different countries that we had to face from what we did in October. Three years ago, what we saw in Geneva at this time was a complete turnaround,” he said.

DOJ Undersecretary Raul Vasquez said the Philippine delegation rejected outright those which are culturally incompatible to the Philippines.

“Normally there are three options given you – accept, reject or you defer. There are several items that [we had to reject] because of our national identity, our religious beliefs, and our cultural traditions and the Philippine sovereignty, that we need to protect and uphold at all times,” Vasquez said.

Among the rejected recommendations were the legalization of divorce and same-sex marriage.

“This legislation is there every Congress. Someone files it. It is a matter of policy whether we will accept it or not. And I think that we know as a country that we are not ready for those,” he added. (PNA)