Tag Archives: Amnesty International Philippines

[Off-the-shelf] “A Well-Being Workbook for Youth Activists” Volume 2 -AIph

#HumanRights #MentalHealth

Happiness and your activism can co-exist.

You deserve to be as nice to yourself as you are to other people.
Amnesty’s “A Well-Being Workbook for Youth Activists” Volume 2 to support you on your journey to care for yourself and others while defending human rights.

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Read Volume 1 of the FanZine here: http://bit.ly/AmnestyFanZineVol1

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[From the web] UN resolution a missed chance for justice but scrutiny continues -AIph

#HumanRights #StopTheKillings [From the web] UN resolution a missed chance for justice but scrutiny continues

The resolution on the Philippines adopted by the UN Human Rights Council today is a missed opportunity to seek justice for thousands of unlawful killings, said Amnesty International.

Rather than launching the much-needed comprehensive investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines, the UN resolution – led jointly by Iceland and the Philippines – requests the UN Human Rights Office to support the Philippines through ‘technical assistance’. This assistance will be focused on areas including accountability; data gathering of violations by the police; civic space; counter-terrorism legislation, and a rights-based approach to drug control.

“The human rights situation in the Philippines warrants more than just ‘technical assistance’ from the UN. A full international investigation to effectively address the pervasive impunity in the country is urgently needed,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Philippines Researcher at Amnesty International.

The resolution falls far short of repeated calls by civil society and UN experts for an independent, international investigation into the serious ongoing human rights violations in the country, including the thousands of extrajudicial executions perpetrated by police and vigilantes linked to them in the context of the so-called “war on drugs”.

“The Human Rights Council failed to advance justice for bereaved families across the Philippines who had placed their hopes in the international community,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“This weak resolution also lets down the brave human rights defenders, journalists and others who have engaged with the UN in good faith and pursue their work at huge personal risk.”

Amnesty International has seen a continued deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines over the last few months. Major warning signs include ongoing incitement to kill by President Duterte, the promotion to national police chief of Lt Gen Camilo Cascolan, an alleged architect of the deadly anti-drug campaign, and the adoption of a dangerous anti-terror law. In June 2020, well-known journalist Maria Ressa was convicted for ‘cyber libel’, and a month after, major media network ABS-CBN was shut down. There is also a new spike in police killings, and there have been brutal murders of human rights and political activists and of a journalist in recent months.

This critical state of affairs was detailed by Amnesty International in a briefing published last week, “My Job is to Kill”, named after a speech by President Duterte in March 2020.

“The states that negotiated with the Philippines to agree to this resolution have a responsibility to launch a full international investigation if there is no radical improvement in the human rights situation in the country. These states face a credibility test: how will they respond if the bloody wave of killings continue, and the brutal crackdown on civil society and the media rages on?”

Despite its major shortcomings, the resolution includes measures that task the UN Human Rights Office to continue to provide updates to the Council over the next two years.

“The decision to keep the Philippines on the Council’s agenda sends a clear message to the Duterte administration that the international community is still watching,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“The months to come must see an immediate end to the wave of drug-related killings, the cessation of violent attacks against critics of the government, as well as a halt to the crackdown on press freedom in the Philippines.

“While the government’s tactics to delay an international investigation may have worked this time, the moment will come when justice will be done.”

Read full article @www.amnesty.org

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[Press Release] UN must intensify pressure to end killings as impunity reigns -AI

UN must intensify pressure to end killings as impunity reigns
25 September 2020

The administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continues to incite a wave of extrajudicial executions and fuel a climate of near-absolute impunity for perpetrators, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing on the country’s dramatically deteriorating human rights situation.

The briefing, “My Job is to Kill”: Ongoing human rights violations and impunity in the Philippines, is being published as the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) considers its response to a recent UN report on the country’s human rights crisis.

The briefing takes its name from a March 2020 speech by President Duterte in which he told local officials: “It is my job to scare people, to intimidate people, and to kill people.”

Amnesty International, together with a coalition of other human rights organizations, is urging the HRC to establish an independent body to conduct an in-depth investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in the Philippines since 2016.

“Four years into his presidency, Rodrigo Duterte has turned the Philippines into a bloodbath where police and unidentified vigilantes are free to kill as they please,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Philippines Researcher at Amnesty International.

“This is not an accidental by-product of his administration, but its central feature. Police and other unidentified gunmen know they can kill without consequence. They are taking literally the President’s regular incitement to kill, and his promises to protect those who do so – and so should member states at the Human Rights Council.”

“A panel announced by the government is not credible and cannot deliver justice. The Human Rights Council must not back down now. It must act to prevent further deaths and send a clear message to the perpetrators, and to the government itself: the world is watching and we will not let impunity prevail.”

Amnesty International’s new briefing describes how alleged drug offenders and others suspected of committing crimes continue to be killed with impunity, amid years of incitement to violence by President Duterte and others in his administration. Moreover, often-deadly attacks against activists and human rights defenders accused of links to the communist movement have surged and grown more brazen. Meanwhile, attacks on the media are at their worst levels in decades.

The pattern of extrajudicial executions remains

New cases of drug-related extrajudicial executions examined by Amnesty International remain consistent with patterns that the organization has documented over the four-year course of the so-called “war on drugs”.

The majority of victims continue to be from poor and marginalized communities; the killings are covered up by falsified reports; and bereaved families consistently express helplessness at the overwhelming obstacles in pursuing justice.

In one case examined in the briefing, several witnesses to the killing of Kim Lester Ramos in October 2019 told Amnesty International of a sequence of events that differed significantly from the account and photographs provided in the police report.

According to a survivor, who said he was the initial target and was also shot, Kim Lester Ramos was gunned down at point-blank range while seeking help for his injured friend. Testimony from eyewitnesses said that Ramos was unarmed, that a gun was later placed in his hand, and that the position of his body was changed – all to justify a policeman’s motive of self-defense.

The Ramos family is one of the few that has been supported in their pursuit of justice by local authorities, including from their mayor. In December 2019 the Ramos family filed a murder complaint against the police officer involved. However, at the time of publication, Amnesty International is aware of no further progress on the case.

Killings and incitement amid the pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, killings are once again rising as the President continues to incite violence against people suspected of having committed a crime, including those accused of using or selling drugs. Moreover, promises by President Duterte to protect those who kill and commit other human rights violations have persisted. This incitement has grown stronger in recent months, despite increased international scrutiny by the UN.

Analysis of government data by Human Rights Watch has revealed that killings in police anti-drug operations were up by 50 percent during the pandemic. Based on this data, the police killed 155 people from April to July 2020, compared to 103 people from December 2019 to March 2020.

In August 2020, the President used a speech to instruct the Bureau of Customs to “kill drug smugglers” and said that he would protect its agents from jail, while claiming he had approved the agency’s request to purchase firearms. He also taunted human rights organizations: “These human rights people are so timid. What do you do? Just count the dead? Sons of b*tches, you should change jobs, not in human rights. Work at morgues if that’s all that you do.”

A photojournalist documenting killings in Metro Manila recently told Amnesty International that a reshuffling of police commanders had recently led to a “spike in cases” of killings in the city since the appointment of new police chief at the start of September 2020.

Apart from killings by police, executions by motorcycle-riding assailants have continued in recent months. A Quezon City priest, Father Robert Reyes, says that over two weeks in July, he presided over three funeral masses in one community alone for victims of unlawful killings by unidentified gunmen. Such killings by unidentified vigilantes have been repeatedly linked back to the police.

The deeply flawed approach to the “war on drugs” continues to obstruct efforts to ensure people are protected from problems associated with drugs. Amnesty International continues to call on authorities to shift away from punitive approaches based on criminalization and refocus its attention on health and other social services. Drug policies must be centred upon an expansion of health and other social services to address drug-related problems, including prevention, information, harm reduction, voluntary treatment and rehabilitation services on a non-discriminatory basis, including in prisons and other situations where people are deprived of their liberty.

Surge in attacks and killings linked to “red-tagging”

Amnesty International has also documented how President Duterte’s declaration of “all-out war” against “communist rebels,” following the breakdown of peace talks in 2018 has resulted in a raft of arbitrary arrests and detention of people deemed critical of the government, as well as the killing of activists and human rights defenders.

“For years, the authorities have used ‘red-tagging’ to brand and discredit anyone whose human rights campaigning or community work they disapprove of,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard. “Today, red-tagging has become a very real death threat.”

In one recent egregious example, on 17 August 2020, Negros-based activist and human rights defender Zara Alvarez, whom Amnesty International interviewed in December 2019, was shot dead by an unknown assailant in Bacolod City. Alvarez had received death threats before her murder. A week earlier, on 10 August 2020, activist and peace advocate Randall Echanis was killed, along with a neighbor, at his home in Quezon City. An autopsy report determined that he sustained multiple stab wounds.

Both Alvarez and Echanis had previously been “red-tagged” and placed on an arbitrary list of “terrorists” drawn up by the Department of Justice and submitted to a Philippine court. Although their names were eventually removed, the list originally included many prominent activists and human rights defenders, including then UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

As with relatives of victims of drug-related killings, families, and friends of that slain expressed anger and feelings of powerlessness when it came to getting justice. Human rights groups fear that a new and overbroad anti-terror law will only increase the risks faced by activists and human rights defenders.

The UN Human Rights Office documented at least 248 human rights defenders, legal professionals, journalists, and trade unionists killed in relation to their work between 2015 and 2019 in the Philippines.

A Negros official told Amnesty International that while impunity was nothing new, the situation on the island was “the worst ever”, adding: “Red-tagging is the preliminary step to killing.”

Attacks against journalists

Alongside the widely publicized harassment faced by journalist Maria Ressa and her Rappler newsroom and efforts by the administration to force broadcaster ABS-CBN off the air, Amnesty International’s briefing describes the broader culture of fear and violence faced by journalists across the country.

Nonoy Espina, the national chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, told Amnesty International that not since “the Marcos dictatorship have the media and freedom of the press and expression been attacked” as they are currently.

These attacks have also been deadly. On the evening of 5 May 2020, radio broadcaster Cornelio “Rex Cornelio” Pepino was murdered in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental province, becoming the 16th journalist to be killed during the Duterte administration.

According to media reports, Pepino was riding home from work on a motorcycle with his wife when two unidentified men also on a motorcycle shot him several times and killed him. The radio station Pepino worked for described him as a “hard-hitting” radio commentator who discussed his positions against illegal mining, graft, corruption, and poor governance in his daily program.

The Duterte administration cannot investigate itself

Amnesty International’s briefing describes how the culture of impunity has persisted in the Philippines despite international pressure from civil society and human rights organizations over the past four years, culminating in last year’s HRC resolution 41/2 which mandated a report on the human rights situation in the Philippines by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This report was published in June 2020.

Amnesty International’s findings support the conclusions of the report, which states that the climate of impunity continues and is encouraged by the incitement to violence from “the highest levels of government”.

In an apparent effort to pre-empt calls for an independent investigative mechanism at the HRC, the Philippine Justice Secretary used an HRC meeting in July 2020 to announce the creation of a government inter-agency panel to review more than 5,600 cases of killings during police-led operations.

Since this announcement, the government has shared no new details about this panel.

“All we know of this panel is it will include the very same agencies responsible for the killings, the attacks, and the harassment which they are supposed to investigate. This is a clear example of being both judge and party, and shows its complete lack of independence,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard.

“The timing and circumstances of this panel’s announcement, together with the lack of specifics provided to the public, is clearly designed to shield the government from scrutiny. States at the Human Rights Council must not be fooled into taking this initiative seriously.

“It’s obvious the Duterte administration has no intention of delivering justice to thousands of bereaved families, all while the President repeatedly incites violence and promises to protect perpetrators.

“It now falls to the Human Rights Council to mandate a strong, independent investigative body – all while honouring the High Commissioner’s repeated calls to continue monitoring the Philippines’ human rights crisis.”

UN must intensify pressure to end killings as impunity reigns

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[From the web] Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk -AIph

Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk
4 September 2020

Responding to reports of escalating violence in Surigao del Sur between government security forces and the New People’s Army (NPA) which led to the killing of two young indigenous people, Amnesty International Philippines Director, Butch Olano, said:

“Violence between state forces and non-state actors in Surigao del Sur has continued to build up after the Anti-Terrorism Law was enacted in July, with reports of more indigenous communities at risk of getting caught in the crossfire. Amnesty International Philippines has received reports of harassment perpetrated both by the military and NPA where a large number of residents have been internally displaced due to armed violence in the area. Incidents of killings of civilians, some of young indigenous people, are very concerning.

“State forces must not forget to uphold the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law as part of any counter-insurgency strategy. The government should recognize that clashes between state forces and armed groups drastically affect the lives and livelihood of civilians, and must adopt a concrete plan for the internally displaced or those who are forced to flee out of fear for their lives and safety. Such a plan must be developed in full consultation with affected communities.

“Amnesty International Philippines is calling on the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), as the main government agency tasked with protecting the interests of Indigenous peoples, to do its job in preventing rights violations against IP groups in the affected areas.

“We denounce indiscriminate attacks brought about by military operations, as well as attacks targeting the general population carried out by non-state actors. We call on the military and the NPA to refrain from any attack of this nature. All attacks targeting members of the general population must be promptly and effectively investigated, those suspected of responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials; the human rights of the victims of such attacks must also be respected and fulfilled.

“Amnesty International Philippines is concerned that the hastily enacted Anti-Terrorism Act is being used as an excuse to violate human rights. The government should ensure that all measures taken against non-state actors fully comply with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and that the Anti-Terrorism Act does not lead to further human rights abuses.”

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Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk

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[From the web] New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war -AIph

New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war

Responding to the appointment of PLtGen Camilo Cascolan as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said

“PLtGen Cascolan is no stranger to the deadly drug war. As the PNP’s former operations chief and co-author of the murderous strategy behind Oplan Double Barrel, he has played a key role in enabling thousands of unlawful killings at the hands of the police. The fact that Cascolan has been promoted to the highest police position in the land shows the alarming levels of impunity in the country.

“Cascolan’s stated plan to use small-time drug pushers as ‘leads’ – instead of killing them – to build cases against drug lords is a blatant case of too little, too late. It is high time for the countless unlawful PNP killings, arbitrary arrests, acts of torture, ill-treatment and other abuses to end.

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New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war

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[From the web] Amnesty urges Ph govt to plan ahead, put right to health at the center of COVID-19 response -AIph

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the country, Amnesty International Philippines urges the government to plan ahead for a clearer and more sustainable approach to respond to the pandemic. Human rights must be at the center of all prevention, preparedness, containment and treatment efforts from the start, in order to best protect public health and support the groups and people who are most at risk said Amnesty International Philippines in a statement.

“There is a need for a more coordinated government response to the COVID-19 threat, which takes into account people and groups most at risk of the most adverse impact,” said Butch Olano, Section Director of Amnesty International Philippines.

“The latest WHO situation report says that transmission risk is very high, and while measures have been implemented to mitigate this, the government should also start taking into account long-term needs, keeping in mind that as transmission rates increase, human rights, especially those of marginalized groups, are affected both by the virus and the government’s response.”

Amnesty International Philippines emphasizes the government’s obligation to guarantee all human rights, in particular, the right to health, by ensuring that goods, services, and information necessary for prevention are not only available but accessible and affordable for all persons.

“Certain groups are at greater risk of contracting Coronavirus and its effects. People living in poverty or those with precarious employment, people with disabilities, and people in detention face additional challenges in preventing exposure to COVID-19.The Philippines government’s plan of action must ensure that everyone can access health care goods, facilities, and services, free from discrimination, including diagnosis and care, including these groups.” Olano added.

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http://www.amnesty.org.ph/news/ph-covid19-plan-of-action/?fbclid=IwAR2UyotA4uIzR4dZtTZlScLVU2sGu_8DyzQpzibOO7XQJGi_qv9hBfIoknY

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[From the web] Women around the world continue to challenge misogynist and sexist discourses and policies -AIph

8 March 2020

In view of the disturbing global trend of misogynist messages currently disseminated by some political and religious leaders, and the increase in oppressive and sexist policies and practices, women around the world are joining forces to consolidate and protect the rights and freedoms achieved to date. The women’s movement seeks to ensure that, far from restricting rights, further progress is made in combating the inequalities persisting in many corners of the planet. Millions of women are challenging discourses that demonize them and attempt to jeopardize the feminist movement, as well as advocates of women’s rights, gender equality, and sex education.

A discourse defending traditional values and a specific definition of the family is gaining ground and promoting an agenda that denies equality as a women’s right, the need to implement specific policies to address gender violence, their right to make decisions with regard to their bodies and to their sexual and reproductive health. This reactionary standpoint is also targeting defenders and activists for being who they are and for doing the work they do. It is a discourse that runs counter to the international agreements already recognized by the United Nations at the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, and which has been ratified by a large number of countries.

“We are concerned that this type of discourse is part of the political agenda in what appears to be a global strategy against women’s rights. It is not by chance that buses with the same messages against diversity, or denying the existence of violence against women, have made appearances in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Chile, Colombia or Kenya. That is why women are reacting more energetically than ever, the feminist movement is becoming stronger and the younger generations are becoming increasingly involved in the struggle,” said Ana Rebollar, deputy director of Amnesty International Spain.

Please click the link below to read more:

http://www.amnesty.org.ph/news/womensday2020/?fbclid=IwAR26YtrZn0NaP9bGdnJIUKIbSGLd9IBbglI9N3Dy7_uW1rfVMyfxYdHLJXM

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[Statement] On police crackdown on transwomen and profiling of Muslim students -AIph

Amnesty International Philippines

Responding to the police crackdown on transwomen and profiling of Muslim students, Section Director Butch Olano said:

“Profiling entire communities solely on the basis of a single identity – whether based on gender, race or religion – supposedly in the name of curbing crime only fuels hate towards particular groups of people and intensifies fear of the police.

“The Makati police’s round-up operations targeting transwomen and the NCRPO’s profiling of Muslim students leave too many holes where peoples’ rights may be violated without sufficient accountability. It is imperative for the chief PNP to ensure that his officers are held to the highest human rights standards for law enforcement, and to look into police activities that are obviously discriminatory in nature and only serve to instigate transphobia and Islamophobia.

“What the police is doing in Metro Manila is a lazy way of preventing crime and discriminates entire communities by violating the constitutionally protected actions of individuals, solely on the basis of the criminal actions of a few.”

Read more @www.amnesty.org.ph

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[Statement] Amnesty International Philippines on Ph govt’s move to shut down ABSCBN

Amnesty Statement on Ph govt’s move to shut down ABSCBN:

Amnesty International condemns the Philippine government’s latest efforts to clamp down on the media, including the Solicitor General’s ongoing attempts to shut down ABS-CBN, one of the country’s largest TV networks.

Amnesty International calls on the government to immediately end any moves to shut down ABS-CBN, as well as other media networks in the country, and urges it to respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom expression and media freedom.

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[Statement] Withdraw gag order plea against ABS-CBN TV network -AIph

Responding to news that Philippine Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court for a gag order against statements about its pending petition to nullify the franchises of TV network ABS-CBN, Amnesty International’s Regional Director Nicholas Bequelin said:

“This gag order is a clear attempt to silence critics of the government and would set a very dangerous precedent in violation of the right to freedom of expression. It is particularly reprehensible that the government is requesting to prevent people from freely discussing issues of public interest such as media freedom, and ongoing human rights violations in the country.

“The authorities are cracking down not just on the TV network but also on the right of every Filipino to freely express themselves. This plea must be withdrawn.

“It is unacceptable for the authorities to blatantly attempt to restrict freedom of expression and then expect people in the Philippines to simply remain silent. If anything, the government’s continued efforts to undermine the press’s ability to report freely will only invite more criticism. The government would do better by listening and addressing what is driving such criticism rather than resorting to legal theatrics to suppress human rights.”

Read more @www.amnesty.org

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[From the web] Amnesty opens nominations for Ignite Awards Season 2

From AIph FB page

Amnesty International Philippines, on the occasion of its 58th global anniversary, opened the nominations for Season Two of Ignite Awards for Human Rights. First of its kind, it is Amnesty Philippines’ highest honor given to human rights defenders in the country.

“Despite the socio-political turmoil we are experiencing right now, we at Amnesty strongly believe that our individual and collective power as a people working towards transforming and uplifting each other must be given due recognition and appreciation now more than ever. It is necessary to shine a spotlight on those individuals who pave the way for collective action. The work that Human Rights Defenders or HRDs do are often overlooked and more often than not, they are attacked, imprisoned, harassed or even killed because of their work, instead of being encouraged or recognized as key agents of change,” said Butch Olano, Director at Amnesty International Philippine Section.

Recipients of Ignite Awards for Human Rights Season One, launched in May 2017, were Senator Leila De Lima for the Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender – Individual, Dakila for the Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender – Organization, Floyd Scott Tiogangco for Outstanding Young Human Rights Defender and Cha Roque for Art that Matters for Film. The awarding ceremony was held in 2018.

“We opened the nominations earlier this year for the awarding in 2020 completing its 3-year cycle, so that more people can nominate HRDs from the grassroots movement. We welcome nominations for HRDs fighting for the rights of women and girls, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Also for those who are working on the protection of the rights to health, education, justice, employment, and the environment. The genre for the Art that Matters category this season is literature so, Ignite Awards is also looking forward to getting nominees from the literary field,” explained Olano.

Read more @www.amnesty.org.ph

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[Video] Human Rights in Two Minutes (Filipino) -AIph

Human Rights in Two Minutes (Filipino)

Watch this video for a clear, fun and simple explanation of what human rights are.

This video was translated from its original French version produced by the Amnesty International Swiss Section, supported by the Commission on Human Rights.

Support #KarapatDapat na Agenda campaign! Click the poster to know more.

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[Statement] Investigate killing of 14 people in police operations -AIph

Investigate killing of 14 people in police operations

Amnesty International is alarmed at the killing of 14 people in Negros Oriental province, in southern Philippines, on 30 March. The victims, many of whom were identified by their families and by local groups as farmers and community leaders, were killed in three separate locations during police operations supposedly targeting “communist rebels” accused of illegal weapons possession. Several other people, including some known to be members of local political organizations, were arrested and detained in the operations.

Amnesty International calls on the Philippine government to ensure an immediate and effective investigation into the killings, with a view to clarifying the circumstances of the incidents, and assessing whether there were legitimate grounds for the use of lethal force. If it is determined that unlawful lethal force was used, those reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials. The government must also respect the rights of those arrested and currently detained.

The victims’ families have made statements that point to human rights violations in the conduct of these police operations. According to their accounts, soldiers and heavily-armed police officers – some of whom were in uniform but wearing masks or sunglasses, or with their nameplates covered – knocked once, and then barged into houses and forced family members to go outside. The targets of the operations were reportedly told to remain inside, and were beaten and then shot dead. At least two were brought to the hospital via an ambulance several hours later and declared dead on arrival. Many of them reportedly suffered multiple gunshot wounds, including one who sustained as many as eight wounds, in the neck, chest and stomach. The families said that the victims were unarmed. In several cases, the police reportedly failed to present a search or arrest warrant.

If the families’ accounts are accurate, the officers who carried out these operations may have extrajudicially executed the suspects, in violation of the non-derogable right to life protected under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is a party. Whenever the unlawful use of force is suspected, in particular by state officials, and where such force has led to injury or death, prompt, impartial and effective investigations must take place. In addition, under Article 2(3) of the ICCPR, states parties undertake to ensure an effective remedy for persons whose rights have been violated, which must include both reparations and accountability for those responsible.

The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials are also instructive in assessing the officers’ recourse to lethal force. They provide that in carrying out their duties, law enforcement officials “shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.” They further state that: “whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved; minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life; ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment; [and] ensure that relatives or close friends of the injured or affected person are notified at the earliest possible moment.” Amnesty International calls on the Philippine government to expeditiously carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the killings.

If sufficient evidence indicating extrajudicial executions is found, any officers reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility, including those with command responsibility, should be prosecuted in fair proceedings. We also urge the government to reiterate to members of its security forces the need for full respect for international and domestic laws and standards on policing, law enforcement, and the use of force and firearms. Further, we ask the government to respect the rights of those arrested and currently detained, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the ICCPR against arbitrary detention, as well as on their right to be informed of the charges against them, their entitlement to trial, and their right to compensation if their arrest or detention is found unlawful.

Background

According to media reports, simultaneous police operations were carried out after midnight on 30 March in three areas of Negros Oriental province: in Canlaon City, and in the towns of Manjuyod and Santa Catalina. Police said the operations were aimed at serving search and arrest warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives against suspected members and supporters of New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist party of the Philippines. By the end of the operations, eight people were killed in Canlaon, four in Manjuyod, and two in Santa Catalina. All of them, according to the police, were suspected members of the New People’s Army and were killed because they resisted arrest. At least 12 other suspects were arrested and detained, including some who were identified as members or leaders of local organizations.

Source: www.amnesty.org.ph

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[In the news] Rights advocates continue to do mandate despite threats, group tells Duterte -PhilStar.com

Rights advocates continue to do mandate despite threats, group tells Duterte

Human rights groups continue to defend the rights of individuals and communities despite the threats hurled by those in power, Amnesty International Philippines stressed Wednesday.

The rights watchdog made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte accused human rights groups of seeking to undermine the government.

“For you, human rights [defenders] is ‘the government is the enemy.’ You want to destroy the government,” Duterte said in Filipino, adding that human rights groups should also condemn the killing of innocent people by criminals.

In response, Butch Olano, AI Philippines section director, said that human rights groups here and abroad “have not stopped working even as leaders such as Duterte continue to spew hate rhetoric against various sectors—women, the poor, indigenous peoples, the international community and again recently to human rights groups.”

“We stay focused with our work, despite threats, in order to make sure that hate speeches do not get translated into oppressive policies and unfair treatment. The president should also just stick to what the people have mandated him to do,” Olano said.

Read full article @www.philstar.com

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[Statement] Duterte’s two years in power a human rights calamity -AIph

Philippines: Duterte’s two years in power a human rights calamity

President Duterte has presided over a disturbing regression on human rights that has left the Philippines a more perilous place than when he came to power, said Amnesty International, ahead of his third state of the nation address marking the second anniversary of his presidency.

“President Duterte came to power on the back of a ‘strongman’ image and a promise to be tough on law and order. The reality is, just two years into his presidency, his disastrous policies have made the country a more dangerous place, particularly for the poorest Filipinos,” said Rachel Chhoa Howard, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher.

“Instead of combatting a difficult social problem, his ‘war on drugs’ has caused untold damage and misery. President Duterte’s policies – which include directly encouraging unlawful killing – have seen thousands of people murdered with total impunity amid growing lawlessness, with extrajudicial executions in homes and on the country’s streets still happening on a daily-basis.

“As the killing continues, and with no sign of any counter-action at the national level, it is time for the international community including the UN Human Rights Council to mandate an investigation into the Philippines’ appalling approach to tackling drug-related issues.”

Read more @www.amnesty.org

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[Press Release] ‘Reveal clear human rights platform’, Amnesty urged presidential bets -AIPh

‘Reveal clear human rights platform’, Amnesty urged presidential bets

Photo by AIPh

Photo grabbed from AIPh FB page

Amnesty International Philippines asked presidential aspirants to make public commitments to protect human rights if and when they are elected president in the coming May 2016 elections.

“We wrote letters to presidentiables asking them to respond to our 5-point Human Rights Agenda. These recommendations are based on Amnesty International’s long-standing research into human rights violations under successive governments in the Philippines. While most issues were tackled by previous administrations, we believe that in order to sustain any progress achieved in critical areas, an incoming strong leadership with clear human rights agenda is essential. Unfortunately, this challenge has not been accepted as Amnesty International Philippines has yet to receive word from the offices of presidential candidates regarding their human rights platform,” explained Ritz Lee Santos, III, Amnesty International Philippines Chairperson.

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Amnesty International disclosed its dismal rating on the current administration’s approach to issues such as ending extrajudicial executions, unlawful arrests, secret detention, enforced disappearances, and torture.

“President Benigno Aquino failed to issue an executive order showing his commitment to ending enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. There is also little progress in establishing accountability over the military, police and other state forces for human rights violations. Not one perpetrator of torture had been punished. The Aquino administration also fell short in reviewing the Witness Protection Program and revoking Executive Order No. 546 directing the police to support the military in its counterinsurgency work. As in our 2010 recommendations, these are still included in our 5-point Human Rights Agenda for 2016,” said Santos.

Amnesty International Philippines said that their recommendations are practical and time-bound referring to the incoming president’s first 100 days and first year in office which also included ensuring the safe and voluntary return of the internally displaced, embedding human rights protection in the peace process, ratifying key treaties on human rights and international humanitarian laws and making human rights a priority integrated across all government bodies.

“These are not new issues. We have been adamant in calling the government to address these for years. It is surprising to note that despite the fact that most of the top presidentiables are still incumbent officials, they were not able to give an outright response to our challenge. It is only less than six months before the May 2016 elections, if until now none of them are able to answer even to one of our five points, we can only deduce that human rights might not be in the centerpiece of their governance. And this is unacceptable. A leadership that does not adhere to the principles of human rights poses a graver future for this country,” concluded Santos.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PHILIPPINES
PRESS RELEASE
07 December 2015

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[Resources] “Torture impunity, An analysis of the implementation of the Anti-Torture Law in the Philippines” -UATC

“Torture impunity, An analysis of the implementation of the Anti-Torture Law in the Philippines”

The writing of this publication was in collaboration with members of the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)- Philippines led by Amnesty International Philippines, Balay Rehabilitation Center, Medical Action Group (MAG) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) in cooperation with the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights (UP IHR), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT) or World Organisation Against Torture.

[guatc logoigya width=”200″ height=”200″ src=”http://files.bannersnack.net/app/swf2/EmbedPlayerV2.swf?hash_id=fdba3bb058e8fee910c25d65b3436908&bgcolor=#3D3D3D&clickTag=null&t=1319457850″ quality=”high” wmode=”tranparent” allowfullscreen=”true” ]

The report gives an overview of the challenges faced by human rights organizations and survivors of torture and their relatives, in seeking redress for acts of torture and ill treatment in the Philippines since the enactment of the Republic Act (RA) No. 9745 otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Act in
November 2009.

This report draws together the key results that came out of the series of workshops and a follow-up mission organized by its authors in June and July 2013 to assess the implementation of the Anti- Torture Law.

In particular, last section of the report, outlines the next steps that the UATC- Philippines and PAHRA will be working on in relation to this key area of work, and the key recommendations to the Oversight Committee of the Anti-Torture Law.

Information contained in this publication may be freely quoted or reprinted, provided credit is given and a copy of the publication containing the reprinted material is sent to the UATC- Philippines secretariat.

The activities related to writing of this report has been undertaken with support of DKA Austria.

This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union and the Oak Foundation. Its content is the sole responsibility of its authors can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union or the Oak Foundation.

Read full report @Torture impunity report

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[Press Release] Legal but not legit says Amnesty International on SC ruling for cyber-libel -AIph

Legal but not legit says Amnesty International on SC ruling for cyber-libel

“News of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the cyber-libel provision of the Cybercrime Prevention Act is a cause of concern for the enjoyment of freedom of expression as it cements the further expansion of the reach of the highly questionable Philippine Libel Law handed down from penal laws of former colonial administrations,” said Romel Cardenas De Vera, Human Rights Officer of Amnesty International Philippines, in a statement.

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In September 2012, the Cybercrime Prevention Act was signed into law. A month after, a temporary restraining order was issued, which was later on extended pending the decision of the Supreme Court after 16 petitions questioning the law were filed by human rights groups, Internet users, journalists, bloggers, and academics. Oral deliberations followed in January 2013.

“The Supreme Courts’ decision to strike down provisions that are unconstitutional but leaving space for online libel, which is constitutional as far as the original author is concerned, gives mixed signals as it still rolls back protections for free speech in the Philippines. It remains that under this provision, a peaceful posting on the Internet could still result in a prison sentence,” explained De Vera.

The law has broadly extended criminal libel to apply to acts committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

“There is so much that the citizens of the Philippines have to speak out about as the country suffers from widespread corruption and poverty and also having one of the worst records on extra judicial killings of activists and journalists in the Maguindanao Massacre,” recalls De Vera.

De Vera added that the cyber-libel provision is a late inclusion to the Cybercrime Prevention Bill when it was still in both Houses of Congress.

“Many of the multimillion peso libel cases filed in our Philippine courts were by legislators, executive officials and even a sitting Supreme Court Justice. It is not farfetched that the cyber libel provision will be used against anyone seeking state and corporate accountability for abuses and violations of human rights,” De Vera said.

In January 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee found the Philippines’s criminalization of libel to be “incompatible” with the freedom of expression clause in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The UNHRC has already decided on October 2011 that our libel law is inconsistent with the enjoyment of freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the Philippines had ratified,” added De Vera.

Article 2.2 of the ICCPR states that ‘each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present Covenant’.

“The Philippine government must focus on making our laws in consonance with international human rights standards and not strengthen more laws used for stifling dissent against those in authority. Amnesty International believes that the Supreme Court must hear petitions for review of its ruling and abide by our international human rights obligations.” Concluded De Vera.

Source: amnesty.org.ph

Amnesty International Philippines
Press Release
19 February 2014

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[Press Release] Amnesty International says reviving the death penalty won’t make the Philippines any safer

Amnesty International says reviving the death penalty won’t make the Philippines any safer

Revival of the death penalty “due to an alarming upsurge of crimes” is counter-progressive, Amnesty International Philippines said today following the filing of two bills in the Philippine Senate and Congress – Senate Bill 2080 seeking to repeal Republic Act 9346 which prohibits the imposition of the death penalty and House Bill 1213 imposing the death penalty on foreigners found guilty of drug trafficking.

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“Any move to revive the death penalty in the Philippines is a retrograde step and a serious setback for human rights in the country. And it does not even guarantee us of a safer Philippines,” said Dr. Aurora Parong, Director of Amnesty International Philippines.

The human rights group criticized both bills as an attempt to “quickly fix” crime when on the contrary there has never been any convincing evidence to support the argument that the death penalty prevents crime more effectively than other punishments.

“Despite the lack of convincing evidence of the deterrent effect of the death penalty on crimes in ious countries, some politicians and government officials often present death penalty as a crime-control measure when faced with high crime rates. To effectively deter crime, the Philippine government should diligently implement laws and bring to justice perpetrators of crimes, without discrimination, whether rich or poor and regardless of power or influence. The different branches of government must be fully al and effective in the ious steps of the criminal justice process – effective policing, effective investigations of crimes, good cooperation between the investigators and the prosecutors, fair trials, competent judges, regulations in the use of firearms and ammunitions, among others.” explained Dr. Parong.

According to an Amnesty International Report “Not making us safer — Crime, public safety and the death penalty”, studies have shown that the general perception of safety is directly influenced by how effective the work of the police, the judiciary and the country’s institutions is perceived to be.

“For people to feel safe, the police have to be perceived as competent and protector of peoples who are able to prevent and control crime. Police accountability for acts of abuses in handling criminal cases are also important factors in building trust in the police service,” Dr. Parong further said.

Amnesty International also believes that public interest would be best served by strengthening the judicial system so that offenders are brought to justice without their own human rights being violated. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

“Opposing the death penalty does not mean supporting impunity for crime. Amnesty International acknowledges fully the suffering of victims of violent crime and their families, and recognizes the duty of governments to protect the rights of victims of crime. However, anger and grief, no matter how justified, should not be used to justify the resumption of executions or retention of the death penalty,” added Dr. Parong.

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1989 believing that “the abolition of the death penalty contributes to enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights.” The UN General Assembly is also convinced that all measures of abolition of the death penalty should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life.

“We believe that those found responsible, in a fair judicial process, of a crime should be punished but without recourse to the death penalty. 140 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. People want to be protected from crime, they want to live in safer societies. But the death penalty does not make us safer,” concluded Dr. Parong.

Download copy of report – “Not making us safer — Crime, public safety and the death penalty” here: http://bit.ly/not_safer

Press Release
29 January 2014

http://amnesty.org.ph/news.php?item=news&id=328

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