GMA to be tried before international court

The Permanent People's Tribunal in the Netherlands has agreed to try a case against Filipino president Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, who has been accused of human rights violations. The case against the leader of the Philippines will begin at the Hague on 7 March 2007. Founded in 1979 in the Italian city of Bologna by the anti-fascist activist, Lelio Basso, the Permanent People's Tribunal (PPT), is an international tribunal, independent of any state and acts to examine and analyse in a public way cases of violations of human rights.

Currently there are 36 judges in the tribunal and, although they do not have any legal power, the tribunal's judgements are often considered by international organisations, including the United Nations. The president of the PPT is the Italian lawyer Salvatore Senese.
The charges against Arroyo were presented by a series of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The president has been accused of systematic violations of the rights of people and politicians in the Philippines and of having approved the killings and torture of activists. Some NGOs claim that since Arroyo came to power in 2001, there have been as many as 750 political killings.

The accusations were considered to be sufficient by the tribunal to open a case.
With the case against Arroyo, the Philippines gains the unenviable record of being one of only three countries to have a case filed twice at the PPT for human rights violations. The other two countries are Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia.

The first case against the Philippines occured in 1980 in the Belgian city of Antwerp which found former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos guilty of crime against humanity. The PPT was the first international tribunal to find Marcos guilty of such crimes.

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