Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Archive for September, 2007

Dutch Police did not violate Joma Sison’s rights when they arrested him

Posted by butalidnl on 11 September 2007

The supporters of Joma Sison claim that his human rights were violated by the Dutch police when they arrested him, and when a number of houses of associates were searched. They would point out things e.g. the police’ forced entry into the Sison house, the lack of a search warrant and the denial of visits of family members to Joma.

Despite appearances, however, the police has been respectful of Joma’s human rights during the process. The police had followed their standard procedure (including all the safeguards against human rights abuses) for arresting criminal suspects and raiding their houses. The procedures followed by the Dutch (and most EU countries) differ from those we know to be in use in the US and the Philippines.

A major difference in the procedure is the mechanism by which the courts supervise and check the actions of the police. In the US and the Philippines, the police and/or the Public Prosecutor (District Attorney or Fiscal) would ask a judge for a search warrant or arrest warrant.
In the Netherlands, the Public Prosecutor would present their case to a court, which then appoints a rechter-commissaris (roughly translated as “investigative judge”) to the case. The RC examines the evidence presented by the police and also examines the process by which the police obtained the evidence (always making sure that the rights of the suspect are safeguarded in the process), and also can approve police requests to set up wiretaps and such. At a certain point the RC would also approve to arrest the crime suspect. During raids, the RC needs to be present to supervise the police – the RC is the one to determine which items the police could collect, and how.

In a sense, we can say that the RC is the warrant. The RC is the personification of the supervision by the courts of the police when it undertakes investigations or arrests crime suspects.

Going to the issue of the police’ forced entry into the Sison house. The police did this, most likely, with the permission of the RC.  During raids, the police always does this en masse – often with about 12 raiders.  There need to be enough police to secure the whole area, and the persons inside, and to make sure that the suspect or others do not have a chance to destroy evidence. This is all quite standard here.  Some people who are accused of much lesser crimes, are sometimes also subjected to such raids. In the account of the raid by Julie Sison, the police waited for the RC to arrive before they started taking documents, etc. from the house. Thus, the police raid followed the correct legal procedure.

While in pre-arrest, the accused has all the right to consult with his lawyer; and this right has also been respected. As for visits from other persons, it is the prerogative of the RC or the court to determine who can visit, and when they could do so.  Julie Sison will eventually be allowed to visit Joma – it just takes a bit longer for the request to be granted.

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Dutch arrested Joma Sison based on criminal case alone

Posted by butalidnl on 2 September 2007

When Dutch police arrested Joma Sison on 28 August, many people reacted by saying that it was all the result of the pressure by the Philippine government on the Dutch government. But this is done obviously by persons who do not understand a thing about how the Dutch government works, and thus assume that it works just like that of the Philippine government. Well, this is simply not true.

The Dutch government has its own reasons for doing the things that it does, and it really does not matter what the Philippine government has to say about it. After all, it had tolerated the presence of Joma Sison in the Netherlands for the past 20 years. For the Dutch authorities, the latest arrest of Sison for ordering the murders of Kintanar and Tabara is a simple criminal case. It is against Dutch law to order the murders of people, whether or not these murders take place within the country or outside. For them, this is not a terrorist act, but rather a criminal one.

To those Filipinos who ask why is it only now that Joma is being put in jail in the Netherlands, the answer is simple – the crimes in question have been committed relatively recently (2002 and 2004), and it took some time to gather sufficient evidence.

Those Filipinos who say that the Plaza Miranda bombing and the internal purges of the 1980s would be brought up in the trial of Joma will be disappointed when they find out that the Dutch courts will refuse to hear any of those charges. For the Dutch courts, these crimes were done in the Philippines, and are thus irrelevant to the case.

For the murder case to have been put to the Dutch courts in the first place attests to the fact that the Dutch police have uncovered enough evidence to back the charges. The Dutch police and justice authorities do not do things on the basis of simple accusations put forward by other governments. Recent cases of Dutch (and other EU countries) refusing to turn over information and suspects that the US requested (in its fight against terrorism) demonstrate this fact.

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