The Department of Justice (DOJ) participated in the historical back-to-back inaugural events in Tokyo, Japan this month; (1) the ASEAN-Japan Special Meeting of Justice Ministers (AJSMJ) on 06 July 2023, and (2) the ASEAN-G7 Justice Ministers’ Interface on 07 July 2023.
The AJSMJ was the first of its kind, convening the Ministers of Justice/Laws and Attorneys General of the ASEAN Member States (AMS) and Japan, as an ASEAN Dialogue Partner. It was held to commemorate the 50th year anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.
The interface with the G7 was also the first ever occasion bringing together Justice Ministers and Attorneys General from both AMS and the G7 nations together with select intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), namely, UNODC, UNDP, UNAFEI and TIJ. Japan is the 2023 G7 Chairman.
DOJ expressed support to ASEAN for any significant cooperation it may further have in the future in the field of law and justice with Japan and the G7 nations. In the statements during the plenaries, delivered by Undersecretary Brigido J. Dulay, as the Head of Philippine delegation, the DOJ reaffirmed Philippines’ unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights. At the same time, DOJ expressed Philippines’ sincere willingness to engage and collaborate with like-minded partners, with its dedication to “real justice in real time,” striving for the best interests of the nation. DOJ also espoused the importance of the ASEAN-Japan Work Plan on Law and Justice (Work Plan) in identifying key issues, such as: 1) Promoting Rules-Based Dispute Resolution arising from Cross-Border Business Transactions, 2) Cooperation in Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and 3) Cooperation on Issues to Further Promote the Rule of Law.
The Philippine delegation included Undersecretary Brigido J. Dulay (Head of Delegation/ ASLOM Chairman), Undersecretary Raul T. Vasquez (Bilateral Meetings Lead), Undersecretary Jose R. Cadiz, Jr., Chief State Counsel Dennis Arvin L. Chan (ASLOM Philippine Leader), State Counsel IV Maria Laureen D. Suan and State Counsel I Jennelyn D. Bilocura.
The back-to-back conferences started with ASEAN caucus for the endorsement of the two (2) Outcome documents: (1) the ASEAN-Japan Work Plan on Law and Justice, and (2) the adoption of the Joint Statement during the AJSMJ.
The DOJ had two (2) bilateral meetings, headed by Undersecretary Raul T. Vasquez: (1) with the United Nations Office of Drug and Crimes (UNODC) and, (2) the United States of America (USA).
The Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ), organized a side-event, entitled “Expanding the Promise of the Bangkok Rules: Towards Gender Responsive and Inclusive Justice for All”. Chief State Counsel Dennis Arvin L. Chan, delivered the Opening Remarks emphasizing that the Philippines proudly became the 37th member of the Group of Friends of the Nelson Mandela Rules, also known as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. As the second AMS to join this esteemed group, alongside Thailand, the Philippines is dedicated to upholding these rules. The goal is to continually improve the humane conditions of imprisonment, while prioritizing the preservation of human dignity and the rights of individuals deprived of their liberty.
The AJSMJ and ASEAN-G7 Justice Ministers’ Interface, were the offshoot of the ASEAN-Japan Consultation conducted in Manila on October 2022, at the side event of the 21st ASLOM, hosted by the Philippines, and successfully organized by the Office of the Chief State Counsel - Legal Staff, Department of Justice.