Hand Over US Marine to Philippines Custody in Transgender Killing says IGLHRC

(Washington, DC – December 17, 2014) -- The U.S. government should immediately hand over custody to the Philippines authorities of a marine accused in the killing of a transgender Filipina woman, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) said today. The marine, Joseph Scott Pemberton, has been held at a U.S. military base in the Philippines since he was accused of the killing of Jennifer Laude in October this year.

“The United States has a clear moral obligation to cooperate with the Philippines justice system in this case,” said Grace Poore, Asia and Pacific islands regional coordinator for IGLHRC. “And part of that cooperation includes demonstrating trust in the Philippines judicial system by handing over this person who has been accused of a very serious crime.”

The Philippines formerly sought custody of Pemberton after his arrest was ordered on Monday this week. The United States denied the request with reference to a 1998 agreement (the Visiting Forces Agreement), arguing that the agreement gives the United States the right to retain custody of military personnel accused of a crime in the Philippines until judicial proceedings have completed. In late October, the Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines, Albert del Rosario, said to the press his government expected the United States to waive this right when an arrest warrant was issued.

“International human rights law applicable to the Philippines does not allow for prolonged pre-trial detention, and establishes clear due process guarantees for anyone charged with a criminal offence,” said Poore. “Instead of refusing to deliver Pemberton to the Philippines authorities, the United States should engage actively with the Philippines government to ensure that proceedings are fair and transparent, and that justice is done, for Laude as well as for Pemberton.”