What went before: International Criminal Court
In August 2011, the Senate ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has the power to try and punish the “most serious violations of human rights in cases when international justice systems fail.” This paved the way for the Philippines to become the ICC’s 117th member.
In the same month, the Department of Foreign Affairs nominated Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to The Hague-based court in anticipation of the election of judges in December that year.
Santiago was nominated for her expertise in international humanitarian law, experience in criminal law and her known advocacy for the Rome Statute, acting Foreign Secretary Antonio V. Rodriguez said.
The Hague is home to the ICC, an independent body separate from the United Nations system and the first permanent international court to deal specifically with the gravest crimes committed against humanity.
In late September 2011, Santiago started her campaign for the ICC posting, visiting The Hague where she met with ICC president Sang-Hyun Song and other ICC officials. She also had one-on-one meetings with the ambassadors of ICC States Parties.
The then Philippine Ambassador Lourdes Morales hosted a luncheon in honor of Santiago who cited in her speech at the reception ICC’s achievements, including its unique mechanisms for providing support to victims and witnesses.
In December 2011, Santiago became an ICC judge after receiving 79 out of 104 votes cast in the elections in New York. She became the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to sit in the tribunal that tries cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity,
The six other new judges were still being voted on at that time, Santiago said. The Philippines was No. 1 in the first round of voting, she added.
But the senator’s oathtaking was postponed as she was unable to fly to The Hague in 2012 because of hypertension. Santiago suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, which has also kept her from attending Senate sessions.
In June last year, Santiago wrote ICC president Sang-Hyun Song to tell him she was stepping down as a judge of the court.
“Since I was elected in December 2011, I have secured neither alleviation nor treatment from the medical profession for my illness, known as chronic fatigue syndrome,” Santiago wrote, adding that she would support the Assembly of States Parties in its search for her successor later this year.
Santiago is on medical leave for lung cancer. Her term at the Senate ends in 2016. Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives
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