Summary Killings in Davao Singled Out in U.S. Report

Mar. 11, 2006

MANILA — In its country report on the human-rights situation in the Philippines, the U.S. State Department singled out Davao City as one of two cities (the other is Cebu) for the increase in summary killings in 2005, with 147 such murders that year, compared to 104 in 2004.

The U.S. State Department says state security forces committed serious human-rights violations in 2005. (REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)

“Summary killings by vigilante groups in two major cities increased, and local officials seemed to condone and even encourage them,” said the annual report, which was released on Wednesday. (Cebu officials had acknowledged in the past that they took inspiration from Davao City for their iron-hand approach to crime. According to reports, summary executions of criminals — many of them petty criminals and minors — in other cities in the Visayas, as well as Digos City and Tagum City in Southern Mindanao, have likewise increased.

Aside from summary killings, the U.S. human-rights reported noted the increasing number of activists killed, allegedly by government forces and the unresolved murders of journalists.

Among the report’s key findings:

* arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings by elements of the security services; and political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors, which often go unpunished

* disappearances

* physical and psychological abuse of suspects and detainees and instances of torture

* arbitrary arrest and detention

* police, prosecutorial, and judicial corruption

* long delays in trials

* harsh prison conditions

* societal discrimination against Muslims

* harassment of some human rights and left-wing political activists by local military and police forces

* violence against women and abuse of children, as well as child prostitution, and trafficking in persons

* child labor, including underage domestic servants

* ineffective implementation and enforcement of worker rights

    “The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens,” it said. “However, pervasive weakness in the rule of law, official impunity, and the wide disparity between rich and poor contributed to cynicism about official justice.”

    Download the full report here.

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