Saturday, July 16, 2011

No end in Philippine killings, human rights violations, says Amnesty International

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 16, 2011) - A year after Senator Benigno Aquino III was elected as President, there is little progress in addressing human rights violations in the Philippines - torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, especially in Mindanao Island.

“The delivery of justice remains a dream for many victims of human rights violations in Mindanao and other parts of the country. We still do not know what lies ahead for the victims of abuse and their families. President Aquino and local government officials in our country must show in their public statements and actions that they give prime importance for the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights,” said Aurora Parong, Director of Amnesty International Philippines during a recent forum in Davao City.

“We are still awaiting justice for the victims of extrajudicial executions and the Maguindanao massacre. Journalists were killed last year including Desiderio Camangyan of Mati City and Nestor Bedolido from Digos. An entire year has passed with small progress, said Ritzlee Santoss III, the Chairperson of the Board of Amnesty International in the Philippines.

Just last month, the Amnesty International its annual report "Progress, Stagnation, Regression? The State of Human Rights in the Philippines under Aquino."

The 18-page briefing examines the Aquino administration’s progress on 26 key human rights recommendations, which the organization put forward to the newly-elected President Aquino in June last year.

Amnesty International has assessed the Aquino administration’s performance on curbing political killings, enforced disappearances and torture and said he failed to establish accountability over the state forces, including paramilitary groups, and has not made enough progress in disbanding and disarming private armies, and in ensuring justice for victims of human rights violations.

Based on Amnesty International’s assessment, out of the 26 human rights action points, this is how the Aquino administration has fared:

 Significant improvement – 0
 Some progress – 2
 Little change – 8
 Stagnant – 8
 Failed – 7
 Regressed – 1

The organization also launched its State of the World’s Human Rights Report for 2011 with a two-page Philippine entry. The report covered extrajudicial executions, torture, violations of indigenous peoples rights and sexual and reproductive rights.

The organization noted that the killings in Davao City in the past years remain unresolved. Amnesty International has reported in 2006 that local human rights groups in the city have repeatedly voiced fears that government agents may be responsible for the killings, or may have incited or colluded with private “vigilante” gangs. The authorities have denied this.

“We call on President Aquino to create a Presidential Accountability Commission to oversee the investigation and expedient prosecution of cases of political killings, enforced disappearances and torture. The Philippine government, at the national and local levels, should give adequate attention to investigation and prosecution of alleged perpetrators of those who disappeared, tortured and killed in the first year of the Aquino government and those killed for about a decade under the Arroyo government.” Parong said.

On the other hand, Santos said: “Our government officials must adopt a rights based governance which means that they should respect the rights of the people, protect them from harm and create conditions for the realization of human rights.”

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