France counters Duterte: We uphold presumption of innocence

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2017 01:50 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2017 05:27 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte

FACT CHECK. The French government rejected Wednesday President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that suspected criminals in France are detained indefinitely and presumed guilty until proven innocent. 

"We have to point out that, as in the Philippines, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is at the core of the French judicial system, based on the principles enshrined in the French Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of August 26, 1789," the Embassy of France in Manila said in a statement

"France strongly believes in the importance of the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights in all countries, including the Philippines." 

It was reported that Duterte on Monday said French laws do not provide for the presumption of innocence, and cursed United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Agnes Callamard of France. 

Callamard had urged Manila to make the death of 17-year-old student Kian delos Santos the last in Duterte's anti-narcotics drive. 

"French? T*** i**, umuwi siya doon (Son of a b****. She should just go home)," Duterte was quoted as saying in a news report. 

"They can detain a person almost indefinitely, under the French law. And the French law says you are guilty, and you have to prove your innocence. Here, the presumption is you are innocent."

The French "Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen" however holds that "every man [is] presumed innocent until he has been pronounced guilty.
 
"No man can be accused, arrested, or detained, except in the cases determined by the law and according to the forms it has prescribed," the declaration reads. 

"Those who procure, expedite, execute, or cause arbitrary orders to be executed, ought to be punished." 
 
The same article is found in the French Constitution. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Malacañang clarified the President's statements, saying both the Philippines and France respect human rights and due process.

"The Philippines and France share the same values of respect for human rights, due process and accords primacy to the presumption of innocence," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

"The President's statements yesterday express the sentiment that while no judicial or legal system in the world is perfect, countries are continuously working to refine their laws and improve their respective national systems in order to ensure protection of human rights while maintaining peace and order within its territory," he added.