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UN expert’s visit to improve Philippine capability for forensic investigation

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Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla reaffirmed on Friday that Dr. Morris Tidball-visit Binz’s to the nation this month is intended to strengthen the nation’s critical capacity for looking into wrongful deaths.

The 66-year-old United Nations expert is “not coming in as a special rapporteur,” Remulla said in a media interview.

“Dr. Tidball-Binz is coming in to help our medical corps increase its capability so that we will be prepared for emergencies and for wrongful death cases including autopsies and forensic pathology. If there are victims of a disaster, we are beginning to assemble a corps of medical experts (pathologists) who can work on wrongful death cases in addition to, of course, assisting in victim identification.

“As a result, one of our agreements with the UN includes this capacity building. Naturally, the UN will provide the funding for this initiative to build capability, Remulla continued.

On April 1, 2021, Tidball-Binz was named the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions.

He had visited the nation as a member of an international group of pathologists working to identify the Super Typhoon Yolanda victims in 2013.

Remulla previously stated that the country needs to increase or carry out capacity building for forensic pathologists, noting that there are now just two licensed, legitimate, and in fact “internationally accepted forensic pathologists” in the nation.

Every region should have a medico-legal who is a forensic pathologist or has at least received training in the field, he said.

In a related development, Remulla reported that following revelations by forensics pathologist Raquel Fortun that the initial examination on the body failed to discover a bullet lodged in the boy’s remains, the family of the murdered Caloocan teenager Kian De Los Santos who passed away at the height of the drug war will be meeting with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“I’m already working on that. The NBI is working on these cases and has sent over documents to me. We are merely following protocol to allow the victim’s relatives to contact the NBI and speak with them so that their testimony can be taken into consideration, added Remulla.

As the International Criminal Court (ICC) plans to reopen its investigation into the drug war deaths in the Philippines, Remulla stated that the DOJ is willing to share documents with the Office of the Solicitor General. However, she once again emphasized that the Philippines is not a member of the ICC.

“We don’t belong to the ICC. Despite what they allege, we are not members of the ICC and there is no procedure by which the ICC can function here. However, we can provide the Solicitor General with some documents. Because we are no longer members, there is no established protocol, Remulla stated.

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