Cebu News

12th ASEAN Summit: Leaders sign anti-terror accord

- Cristina C. Birondo -
The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to join forces in the battle against terrorism in the region, which has been hit by several attacks the past few years.

The leaders of the 10-nation regional bloc signed yesterday afternoon the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism that provides the framework for regional cooperation to counter, prevent and suppress terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The leaders also agreed on the need for an ASEAN Charter, to convert the region to a Free-Trade Zone in eight years, and to fight poverty.

The joint effort against terrorism aims to deepen cooperation among law enforcement agencies and relevant authorities of the ASEAN.

The 10-page agreement sets forth the areas of cooperation, which include the thrust to prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate, or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories for purposes against the other parties or countries and/or of its citizens.

The Convention, which shall be enforced on the 30th day after a sixth member shall have ratified and approved it with the ASEAN-Secretary General, also encompasses the aim to prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups by effective border control and controls on issuance of identity papers and travel documents, among others.

Nevertheless, any person taken into custody for suspected commission of acts of terrorism shall be guaranteed fair treatment. This shall include the enjoyment of all rights and guarantees in conformity with the laws of the country or territory where that person is present and applicable provisions of international law, including the International Human Rights Law.

Under the said Convention, all member countries of the ASEAN are mandated to carry out their obligations in a manner consistent with the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of each of the member states and that of non-interference in the internal affairs of other parties.

In a news conference at past noontime yesterday, Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros, the 12th Asean Summit spokesman, said the leaders have agreed to adopt the United Nations definition of terrorism for use in this covenant.

Specifically, Article 2 of the accord sets forth the criminal acts of terrorism which are within the scope and as defined in 14 treaties, such as the conventions for the suppression of unlawful seizure of aircraft signed in Hague on December 16, 1970; suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation concluded in Montreal last September 23, 1971; and on the prevention and punishment of crimes against internationally protected persons, including diplomatic agents adopted in New York on December 14, 1973.

Under its General Provisions, the parties are mandated to adopt such measures as may be necessary, including national legislation, to ensure that offenses covered in Article 2 of the Convention, especially when it is intended to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature.

A member-country may establish jurisdiction over any such offense covered in Article 2 when the offense is committed within its territory, or when onboard a vessel flying the flag of that party or an aircraft, which is registered under the laws of that party at the time the offense is committed.

The accord includes a provision for extradition, which states that if a party (member-country) in the territory of which the alleged offender is present does not extradite that person, it shall be obliged to submit the case without undue delay to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, through proceedings in accordance with the domestic laws of that party, without exception whatsoever and whether or not the offense was committed in its territory.

The authorities of that country are mandated to take their decision in the same manner as in the case of any other offense of a grave nature under the domestic laws of that party, the agreement further read.

Further, the ASEAN member countries are obliged to afford the widest measure of mutual legal assistance in connection with investigations or criminal proceedings.

Moreover, any difference or dispute between the parties arising from the interpretation or application of the provisions if the said Convention shall settled amicably through consultation and negotiation between the parties through diplomatic channels or any other peaceful means as agreed upon by both parties.

The said accord also provided provisions for the granting of refugee status to the suspected offender, rehabilitative programs, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, designation of central authorities or coordinating structures, as well for its implementation, monitoring and review by the relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies.

The Southeast Asian region particularly Indonesia and the Philippines have been targets of several terrorist attacks in recent years. The Bali bombings in Indonesia resulted to several deaths and so did the many bombings in Metro Manila and key cities of Mindanao.

These terrorist acts have reportedly been perpetrated by the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which has links to the al Qaeda.

There is however no definite date yet on the planned ASEAN Charter while the proposal for a Free-Trade Zone by 2015 is five years ahead of schedule.saht years, and to fight poverty.ings in Metro Manila and key cities of Mindanao.

vuukle comment












  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with