HR group tells UN rights envoy: Probe EJKs of farmers, IPs, rights defenders in PHL

May. 07, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A human rights group urged United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard to probe deeper into the extrajudicial killings in the country involving indigenous peoples, farmers, activists and human rights defenders.



“We urge concerned UN Special Rapporteurs to likewise look into the continuing attacks on peasant and indigenous communities, as well as attacks on activists and human rights defenders,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay in a statement sent to media on Sunday.



The probe, according to Palabay, would eventually “engage and convince the Duterte administration to veer away from militarist policies and withdraw its counterinsurgency program” given the gravity of human rights abuses committed by the government security forces.



Palabay expressed hope that the intervention of the UN rights envoy would prosecute the state’s security forces for grossly violating human rights as shown on the voluminous cases documented by the human rights group.



She pointed out that the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines was done in the course of US-driven counterinsurgency programs.



“(T)hese programs, implemented across regimes, supposedly seeks to end armed rebellion yet have victimized thousands of Filipinos in peasant and indigenous communities, with attacks on civilians and members of progressive organizations legitimized as them being ‘enemies of the State’.”



Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary Killings or Arbitrary Executions, visited the country this week to speak in an academic forum about the country’s drug policies at the University of the Philippines.



Her visitation, however, irked the Palace, accusing her that she had circumvented official protocol and even questioned her intent and objectivity in probing the government’s bloody war on illegal drugs.




Palabay said that  on April 10, Karapatan submitted a letter of allegation to Callamard, along with documentation of the 47 victims of EJKs in the Philippines under the Duterte administration’s “Oplan Kapayapaan,” a counter-insurgency program of the government.



Another letter was sent to Callamard on Nov. 7 last year, urging her to investigate the politically motivated killings.  The human rights group, she said, also forwarded letters of allegation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michael Forst, with regard to the killings of 33 human rights defenders documented by the organization from July 2016 to March 2017.



Karapatan raised the issue of EJKs to Callamard because the recommendations of former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary Killings or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston in 2010 were ignored by the Arroyo and Aquino administration.



“The impunity by which extrajudicial killings were committed since Martial Law and the disregard of the Alston Report are among the reasons why EJKs, in line with the counter-insurgency campaign and the war on drugs, continue,” Palabay said.



She said that Alston, emphasized the rescinding of counter-insurgency programs as a step towards putting a stop to extrajudicial killings, in his 2007 report to the UN Human Rights Council.




“We agree with Ms. Callamard that the current policy on the war on drugs is lacking in addressing the socio-economic causes of the illegal drug trade. Policy alternatives should be explored to formulate programs which prioritizes people’s rights, framed within the structural causes of poverty. The ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is a platform to formulate comprehensive social, economic and political reforms, including those in relation to this problem,” said Palabay. (


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