Tuesday, October 19, 2010

EJK monitoring and reporting project launched

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 19, 2010) - The international media and nongovernmental organization, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, on Tuesday launched its new project in the Philippines that aims to build consensus on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country, which continues to be a deeply divisive and contested issue.

The “Target EJK and Enforced Disappearances in the Philippines: A Consensus-Building, Media Reporting and Risk Reduction Project” can be accessed on this URL - http://targetejk.net and also IWPR’s third project in the Philippines and its second focusing on the issue of human rights and impunity.

Alan Davis, Target EJK director and IWR Head of Asia Programming, said that despite a very high and increasing number of killings and involuntary disappearances, there is huge disagreement over actual numbers or who should be deemed a victim.

Human rights activists, trade union officials, leftist politicians, journalists and land reform advocates comprise the vast majority of victims. Yet soldiers, policemen and militiamen are equally being targeted. So too are petty criminals and government officials and judges, he said.

Data collection is typically determined by the political and ideological views of those doing the monitoring and is consequently rejected by others.

“The only result is everybody loses, not least all the continuing victims and their families left behind,” Davis said.

Given such divisions and confusion, Target EJK has started working to depoliticize and universalize the issue showing it as a critical issue that unites rather than divides.

Funded by the European Union-Philippines Justice Programme, Target EJK builds upon the earlier work of IWPR and its three partner organizations - Center for Community Journalism and Development, MindaNews, and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines - within the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project and is based on the premise that developing a politically neutral approach is the first crucial step toward building a common approach and combating the climate of impunity.

The Target EJK launch in Quezon City was the first time the human rights group Karapatan has agreed to take part in a roundtable discussion with the Philippine military. Karapatan has blamed the military for all extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country, while the military claims the group is in fact part of the insurgency movement.

Over recent weeks, IWPR has been meeting with state and non-state groups and interests to listen to competing views of what should and what should not be deemed an extrajudicial killing. IWPR has also started investigating specific cases of killings and enforced disappearances as well as examining capabilities and deficiencies of the current justice and forensic system.

This short-term project runs through until March 2011.

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