[Statement] Human rights group condemns the killing of woman human rights defender, appeals to Duterte for justice -MAG

Human rights group condemns the killing of woman human rights defender, appeals to Duterte for justice

Photo from MAG FB page

mag logo newThe Medical Action Group (MAG), health and human rights group, appeals to the government to take immediate and concrete actions to investigate the killing of human rights defender in Mariveles, Bataan.

A day after President Rody Duterte sworn into office, Gloria Capitan, president of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamaya ng Lucanin (SNML) and woman human rights defender, of Barangay Lucanin in Mariveles, Bataan, slain on Friday night.

Two still unidentified motorcycle-riding men reportedly gunned down Gloria Capitan. Based on police report, Efren Capitan, 58, Lucanin barangay kagawad, said his wife Gloria, 57, sustained three gunshot wounds, two in the neck and one in the arm from caliber .45 revolver.

Gloria Capitan, “Ate Glo”, as she was fondly called by everyone, as president of SNML and known environmental rights defender of Mariveles, Bataan actively involved in opposing the construction and presence of huge coal stockpiles facility located inside the Seafront Shipyard and Port Terminal Services Corporation, near their neighborhood owned by the Limay Bulk and Terminal Handling Corp.

Based on documentation, since 2015, for her work on the opposition to coal storage facility in their community, “Ate Glo” faced intimidation and threats from representatives allegedly connected with the coal company. She has led the community to petition the government authorities for the permanent closure of the open storage facility since study https://noharm-asia.org/…/coal-health-and-human-rights-less… revealed that communities complained of significant increased suffering from asthma and respiratory related diseases, and as they are already experiencing negative impacts on their environmental conditions and economic situation.

According to reports, because of intense opposition from residents, the coal company had allegedly resorted to intimidation, creating tension and fear in the affected communities.

The killing of “Ate Glo”, indicates that human rights defenders working on land and environmental issues in connection with so-called “development projects” facing a particularly ‘high risk of violations’.

According to a recent report published by Global Witness, the Philippines is not only the second most dangerous place for journalists, it is also the second deadliest country for environmental rights defenders. Based on the report they released last June 20, entitled “On Dangerous Ground”, documented that 185 killings of environmental activists around the world in 2015, nearly 60 percent more than in 2014 and the highest since it began collecting data dating back to 2002.

Further, based on documentation from September 2013- May 2016 by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)*, there are sixty three (63) documented cases of human rights violations/abuses against human rights defenders allegedly perpetrated by private armed goons and security guards, which majority of the cases are in connection with mining and land issues.

MAG said it is essential that thorough investigations are conducted as soon as possible to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Amid unrelenting attacks against human rights defenders, it is high time the authorities take concrete steps to ensure safety for all human rights defenders in the country, and their families,” MAG stressed recalling the government’s obligation to guarantee security and protection for all human rights defenders.

“We urge the government to publicly condemn the killing of Gloria Capitan and ensure an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into her death,” MAG said. “This cycle of violence will only stop when impunity is addressed and perpetrators of such attack are put to justice.”

“This tragedy points once again to major faults in the protection of rights defenders in the country. And we call on the government to enact a law to ensure protection for human rights defenders,’ MAG concluded.

*The MAG and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) are currently implementing 3-year project supported by the European Union (EU) under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), http://eeas.europa.eu/…/documents/press_corner/20142606c.pdf to provide support for and strengthen protection of human rights defenders and their families.

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