UN Special Rapporteur’s visit seen to help PHL on forensics

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday announced that United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Morris Tidball Binz is scheduled to arrive today (Monday) not in his role as special rapporteur, but an expert in the field of pathology to help capacitate Filipino doctors.

A statement by the DOJ explained that Tidball Binz will stay in the country until February 9 and is expected to meet with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo, Philippine National Police Chief Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr., Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Moro Virgilio M. Lazo and National Bureau of Investigation Director Medardo G. de Lemos.

He will also meet with members of the National Prosecution Service and of several civil society organizations.

Remulla said Tidball-Binz’s arrival in the country “will pave the way for forensic pathologists and enhance their practice to achieve international standard practices.”

In particular, the justice secretary said Tidball-Binz will help Filipino doctors to identify “the intricacies of wrongful death tragedies.”

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

Tidball-Binz’s contributions to forensic science, human rights and humanitarian actions to have led to the awarding of two Honoris Causa Doctorates.

For the past 35 years, Tidball-Binz has travelled to over 70 countries to carry out capacity-building missions, fact-finding initiatives and technical evaluations.

He was the one who pioneered the application of forensic science to human rights investigation in forced disappearances cases in Argentina when the said country was under military rule in the 1980s.

He is also a co-founder of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team that developed scientific methods to apply to the investigation of human rights violations and abuses.

He served as Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross Forensic Unit from 2004 to 2017, where he then headed the forensic operation for the humanitarian operation Project Plan whose main program was the Missing Persons Project until 2020.

In 2021, Tidball-Binz was appointed as one of the UN special rapporteurs.

It is these experiences and knowledge, Remulla said, that prompted him to invite Tidball-Vinz when they met on November 2022 at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland where he headed the Philippine delegation.

The DOJ chief said he asked Tidball-Binz then to lend his expertise to help Philippine law enforcement authorities investigate cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

“I invited Dr. Tidball-Binz because his works speak for itself. His missions and projects have had an immeasurable impact on the countries he has helped. He has provided closure for families of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. We are hoping for the same when he visits the Philippines,” Remulla added.

It can be recalled that last November, Special Rapporteur Mama Fatima Singhateh also visited the country to examine local efforts to protect children against sexual exploitation, child marriage and sale of children through illegal adoptions, among other concerns.

In November, special rapporteur Mama Fatima Singhateh also visited the country to examine local efforts to protect children against sexual exploitation, child marriage and sale of children through illegal adoptions, among other concerns.

Tidball-Binz’s visit came as forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Barros dR. Fortun last Friday noted irregularities in the autopsy done by the police on the body of Kian delos Santos, the 17-year old killed by the police in 2017 in Caloocan City at the height of the drug war of the Duterte administration.

His visit also came a week after the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber announced the resumption of its investigation into the government’s anti-drug war campaign that led to thousands of deaths.

The DOJ has lambasted the move of the ICC, saying that it cannot compel the government to cooperate with its investigation since the country’s judicial system is functioning and “we are no longer a member-state of the ICC.”


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