MANILA - International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has filed a case against the Philippine government before the United Nations over the continued detention of former president Gloria Arroyo.
Clooney filed the case on Feb 26 before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), a body under the UN Commission on Human Rights, Philippine media reported late on Sunday.
"The case concerns Arroyo's protracted detention by the Philippine government despite her age, health condition and the court's continued denial to grant her bail," one of Arroyo's lawyers, Modesto Ticman, told GMA News Online.
In filing the case, Mrs Clooney, who is the wife of Hollywood star George Clooney, wants the UN to persuade the Philippine government to release Arroyo, who has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Centre (VMMC) in Quezon City.
Arroyo, 67, was charged with plunder in connection with the alleged misuse of 366 million pesos (S$11.4 million) in intelligence funds of the state lottery firm during her presidency.
She claimed to be suffering from cervical spondylosis, a degenerative disease of the bones and cartilage of the neck, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. She had also complained of "generalised body weakness, persistent pain over the nuchal and left shoulder with numbness of both hands and frequent episodes of choking, the report said, citing the hospital.
Mr Ticman said the former Philippine leader was elated that Mrs Clooney has decided to elevate her case to the UN, GMA News Online reported.
"She (Arroyo) appreciates what Attorney Amal did. She's happy because Attorney Amal, who has international stature, is concerned about her plight. Now her case has gotten the attention of the UN and the international community," he was quoted as saying.
Mr Ticman said since Arroyo's case has been designated as a special procedure, all communications between the UN and Philippine government on the matter will remain confidential.
But should the Philippine government ignore the UN's appeal, Arroyo's case will then be treated as a regular procedure that will be heard by the UN Human Rights Council, he added.
Mrs Amal Clooney, 37, specialises in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition cases. Among her prominent clients are Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Timoshenko. She has recently been named a visiting professor on human rights by the Columbia Law School in New York.