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DOJ: UN expert to arrive in PH to help in probing wrongful death tragedies

The visit of forensics expert Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz to the Philippines this month will help the government with its investigation into the “wrongful death tragedies” in the Philippines, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Sunday.

The Justice Secretary, however, clarified in his statement that Tidball-Binz would not come to the country as a United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, but as an expert in the field of forensic pathology to help in the country’s capacity-building for its medical corps.

“We need more capable doctors in our country to assist our law enforcement agencies in their work. This is an enormous step towards that goal,” added Remulla.

He also said that Tidball-Binz’s accomplishments would “pave the way for forensic pathologists and enhance their practice to achieve international standard practices.”

“Dr. Tidball-Binz’s visit will help us identify the intricacies of wrongful death tragedies,” said Remulla.

Last November 13, Remulla met with Tidball-Binz in Geneva where he attended the Universal Peer Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Remulla then invited the UN Special Rapporteur and asked his help “in assisting the law enforcement agencies in the Philippines to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances” in the Philippines.

“He has provided closure for families of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. We are hoping for the same when he visits the Philippines.”

Tidball-Binz is expected to arrive in the Philippines on February 6, and stay here until February 9.

Aside from Remulla, he is set to meet with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Moro Virgilio Lazo, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Police General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Medardo de Lemos, among others.

In January, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it had authorized the reopening of an inquiry into former President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drugs campaign.

The ICC said it was “not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations.”

However, Remulla called the ICC's actions unwelcome and an irritant, stressing that he would not stand for any antics that would tend to question Philippine sovereignty.

Government records showed that at least 6,200 drug suspects were killed in police operations from June 2016 until November 2021.

Several human rights groups claimed the actual death toll was around 12,000 to 30,000. — DVM, GMA Integrated News