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.