PH, UN ink deal on travel detection of terrorists, serious criminals

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2021 01:02 PM

MANILA - The Philippines and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding on the detection of travel of terrorists and serious criminals, emphasizing human rights laws.

The UNOCT, in a statement, said that under its Countering Terrorist Travel Program, member states will be assisted in building capabilities to detect and intercept terrorists and serious criminals, and enhance international information exchange in compliance with existing laws and human rights standards.

"Critically, this will allow the United Nations to assist the Philippines to identify and address evolving terrorist and criminal threats within both the air and maritime environments,” UNOCT under-secretary-general Vladimir Voronkov said.

The program "emphasizes that all counter-terrorism measures must comply with obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international refugee law," said UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez.

"The UN values its continued dialogue with the Government of Philippines in this regard, and looks forward to continued engagement to ensure that a solid and holistic framework is in place for the human rights-based, effective and coordinated implementation of programs preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism," he said.

The agreement was signed in a virtual ceremony between Voronkov, and Ambassador Enrique Manalo, the Philippines' Permanent Representative to the UN.

“With the establishment of this strategic partnership... the Philippines will be in a better position to implement its roadmap to build its detection capacities and to contribute to the global effort to counter terrorist travel,” Manalo said.

The Philippines, among 42 beneficiary member-states, will be supported under the CT Travel Program through the following "key pillars of work," the UNOCT said:

  • The development of necessary legislative frameworks regulating the collection, transmission, use, retention and sharing of passenger data, in compliance with internationally recognized standards and human rights principles
  • The institutional setup and development of operational capacity of the Philippines’s detection center, also known as a Passenger Information Unit
  • Engagement and cooperation with the transport industry to ensure technical connectivity
  • Technical support, including the licensing and deployment of the United Nations’ specialized ‘goTravel’ software system

The CT Travel Program is funded by contributions from the Netherlands, the European Union, the United States, Qatar, Australia, Germany, Japan, India, and Hungary, according to the UNOCT.

President Rodrigo Duterte last year signed the Anti-Terrorism Act despite widespread opposition due to increasing incidents of red-tagging.

The President and his administration is facing investigation by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity under his anti-narcotics campaign.

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