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International human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney has filed a case against the Philippine government before the United Nations over the continued detention of former president and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Atty. Modesto Ticman, one of Arroyo’s lawyers, confirmed that Clooney filed the case on Feb. 26 before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), a body under the UN Commission on Human Rights.
“The case concerns Arroyo’s protracted detention by the Philippine government despite her age, health condition and the court’s continued denial to grant her bail,” Ticman told GMA News Online in an interview Sunday.
In filing the case, Clooney wants the UN to persuade the Philippine government to release Arroyo, who has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City for a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of P366-million in intelligence funds of the state lottery firm during her presidency.
She is undergoing treatment for a spine disease.
Since Arroyo’s case has been designated as a special procedure, Ticman said all communications between the UN and Philippine government on the matter will remain confidential.
But should the Philippine government ignore the UN’s appeal, Arroyo’s case will then be treated as a regular procedure that will be heard by the UN Human Rights Council.
“Under the special procedure, even us (Arroyo’s lawyers), won’t have access to the UN and Philippine government’s communications. But when it becomes a regular procedure, we can release documents and other information about the case,” he said.
Ticman said Arroyo is elated that Clooney, who is married to Hollywood actor George Clooney, has decided to elevate her case to the United Nations.
“She (Arroyo) appreciates what Atty. Amal did. She’s happy because Atty. Amal, who has international stature, is concerned about her plight. Now her case has gotten the attention of the UN and the international community,” he said.
The 37-year-old barrister specializes in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition cases. Among her prominent clients are Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Timoshenko. She has been named a visiting professor on human rights by the Columbia Law School in New York.
Lawyer Larry Gadon, another member of Arroyo’s legal team, said Clooney’s interest in Arroyo’s case began in 2013. The British barrister even visited the former President at VMMC to see her condition.
“It was around that time we found out that a case may be filed before the UN for the violation of Mrs. Arroyo’s human rights. We’ve been in touch with Mrs. Clooney since the second quarter of 2014,” he said.
'Victim of political persecution'
Their correspondence increased in frequency from November 2014 onwards after a brief lull when the British lawyer was busy preparing for her wedding.
To build Arroyo’s case, Ticman said Clooney asked Arroyo’s legal team to send documents and other information concerning her plunder case, which they immediately sent to her.
According to Gadon, Clooney is convinced the former president is a victim of political persecution after studying her case. For one, the British lawyer pointed out that it was only Arroyo who has not been allowed by the Sandiganbayan to post bail even though her other co-accused in the plunder suit have been granted the same privilege.
Asked what impact the UN’s intervention will have on Arroyo’s pending case in the Sandiganbayan, Gadon said: “Sana magising ang ating mga justices sa ginagawa nilang panggigipit kay Mrs. Arroyo. Mrs. Clooney has already brought international attention to the case by filing it before the UN.” — JDS, GMA News