DOJ, CHR sign data sharing agreement vital to AO 35 cases of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave human rights violations

DOJ, CHR sign data sharing agreement vital to AO 35 cases of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave human rights violations

The Department of Justice (DOJ) / Administrative Order No. 35 Secretariat (AO 35) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) today signed a Data Sharing Agreement, the fruitful culmination of collaboration between CHR and DOJ in furtherance of the mandate of AO 35.

Signed during a virtual ceremony led by CHR Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento and DOJ Undersecretary Markk L. Perete, the vital Agreement facilitates more effective investigation and case build-up that lead to prosecution in cases within AO 35’s mandate.

Main features of the Data Sharing Agreement include sharing of investigation reports in AO 35 cases, promotion of closer cooperation evidence gathering and prosecution, security measures and privacy policies govern data sharing with due consideration of the interests of victims and complainants.

“The present Data Sharing Agreement is necessary considering that we have now the Data Privacy Act. The DSA clearly defines our respective roles, at the same time acknowledges and respects the internal rules of our institutions in the role of data sharing. The provisions of this DSA, that we are about to sign today, will further strengthen the cooperation between our institutions to serve the ends of justice and protect human rights,” relayed Commissioner Tanodra-Armamento.

“This Data Sharing Agreement with the Commission on Human Rights is an important means for us not only to strengthen the avenues of mutual cooperation between us. More importantly, it will broaden our capacity to gather and receive information crucial in the investigation and prosecution of cases in our docket… We commit not only to protect the data you will share with us; more importantly, we undertake to use them well against those who undermine and violate the rights that inhere in us as humans,” said Usec. Perete.

This August, composite teams of prosecutors and law enforcement officers (Special Investigation Teams) were immediately formed upon the directive of DOJ Secretary and IAC Chair Menardo Guevarra to investigate the killings of activists Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez. The Agreement will facilitate DOJ and CHR collaboration in bringing perpetrators to justice.

AO35 serves as the State mechanism dedicated to resolving cases of political violence such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, among other similar grave human rights violations.

The signing of the Data Sharing Agreement resulted from a series of discussions between the two institutions, with support from the European Union (EU) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) through their Governance in Justice Human Rights Project (GOJUST) and the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), along with other efforts to strengthen the AO35 as a State mechanism for addressing grave human rights violations.