Rights groups welcome calls for UN probe on killings

Jun. 26, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Human rights advocates and lawyers welcomed the recent statement by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressing concern on the human rights situation in the Philippines and a need for an independent probe on extrajudicial killings.

The human rights group Karapatan said the UN official’s statement made during the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council is much needed, stressing the urgent need to stop the killings amid the government’s drug war and attacks against human rights defenders.

“We call on the Member States of the UN Human Rights Council to heed the appeal of the UN special rapporteurs and that of the victims of human rights violations and their relatives in the Philippines for an independent investigation into the spiraling human rights situation in the country,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in a statement on Tuesday.

Last Monday, Bachelet made her opening statement at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council Monday, after acknowledging the UN special rapporteurs’ joint statement for an independent probe on the killings.

Bachelet said she has been closely following the human rights situation in the Philippines, and expresses concern on the extraordinarily high number of deaths from extrajudicial killings in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“There should also be comprehensive and transparent information from the authorities on the circumstances around the deaths, and investigations related to allegations of violations. These could dispel any false allegations and help regain trust for the authorities,” Bachelet said.

The UN official also raised concern on the government’s threats against activists and its critics.

“Human rights defenders, including activists for land rights and the rights of indigenous peoples; journalists; lawyers; members of the Catholic clergy; and others who have spoken out – notably the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples – have received threats, sometimes publicly, from senior Government officials. This creates a very real risk of violence against them, and undermines rule of law, as well as the right to freedom of expression,” Bachelet added.

Last week, four human rights activists in Southern Luzon were killed in just a span of three days.

The past year saw celebrated cases in Negros Oriental such as the killing of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 14 farmers from Sagay. Police operatives claimed the farmers were killed in a legitimate operation, but families said the farmers were killed at point blank.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers also hoped to have a positive response from the UN Human Rights Council, as they deemed domestic remedies “to be rather ineffective and ineffectual that frustrate or undermine local recourse for justice.”

“It does not only underscore the urgency and imperative of squarely and decisively addressing the issue and concerns about these horrendous extrajudicial killings but also other brazen human rights violations. Many of these transgressions are disguised or legitimized by color of legality and official sanction including those against lawyers under attack,” the group said.

“Such international human rights mechanisms are available venues for redress and accountability for the victims, and any rejection of such measures can only mean an outright disregard of human rights principles,” Palabay said. (davaotoday.com)

  • jgti

    “Drugs, I cannot control, son of a b**ch, even if I ordered the deaths of these idiots.” – President Duterte

    From a recent story at SCMP.com:

    The Philippine homicide rate is now approaching three times what it was before Duterte came to power and five times the average for Southeast Asia, fuelling fears that the methods of the anti-drug campaign are spilling over into other fronts…

    And while Duterte is starting to look like (Marcos), the next wave of politicians are starting to look like Duterte…

    Local media has meanwhile reported the killing of five judges, 38 lawyers, and five priests since Duterte’s ascension to power. Last year, 38 political figures were murdered…

    In its December 2018 Southeast Asia Media Freedom Report, the International Federation of Journalists concluded the Philippines was the deadliest peacetime country in which to be a reporter. It said 12 had died violently since mid-2016 – most killed by agents of the state…

    Advocates for land rights and the environment are even more at risk. Global Witness, an NGO that works to expose abuses of power, said the Philippines accounted for 48 of the 201 activists murdered worldwide last year. Soldiers working as private militia for agribusiness, forestry and mining projects were implicated in most of the deaths…

    Few of the killers are ever brought to justice. The Philippines was rated the worst of 69 countries in the 2017 Global Impunity Index, a measure compiled by the Centre of Studies on Impunity and Justice (CESIJ)…

    Perhaps there is a collective loss of memory in a country where at least 60 per cent of the population was born after Marcos fled into exile in 1986, leaving a legacy of 70,000 people imprisoned, 35,000 tortured, 3,250 murdered and an unknown number of “disappeared”…

    Some commentators have taken to describing the current state of affairs as “Democrazy”; others are less frivolous. “The Philippines is not just a malfunctioning democracy, we are a failed state,” says one seasoned observer. “The people are at the mercy of drugs cartels, rogue police officers, private armies, and political leaders who are willing to kill. And the killing is just the apex of a pyramid of injustice and the abuse of power, of illegal detention and torture, rape, extortion and theft.”

    But that story is apparently losing its interest, with the international media and its fickle audience now bored with the routine character of killings in the Philippines.

  • jgti
comments powered by Disqus