Tag Archives: Amnesty International

[From the web] Amnesty International calls on the Philippine government to cease its relentless efforts to muzzle journalists and media organizations

#HumanRights #FreedomOfThePress

A free press reporting on the issues that interest us and shape our lives is a key building block of any rights-respecting society. Yet many countries including the Philippines, journalists face repression and attacks.

Since the Duterte administration came to power, it has threatened civil liberties on several fronts. Human rights groups have been increasingly undermined and vilified; government critics and activists have been harassed, arbitrarily detained, and killed; journalists and media organizations have been threatened and targeted with lawsuits.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly attacked ABS-CBN for allegedly failing to run his paid political advertisements during the 2016 elections, which he won.

ABS-CBN has produced numerous investigative reports highlighting extrajudicial executions committed as part of the government’s so-called “war on drugs.” Similarly, news website Rappler and Maria Ressa, who have also been critical of the anti-drug campaign in their reporting, are facing a string of lawsuits, including charges of tax evasion, cyber libel and foreign ownership.

Amnesty International calls on the Philippine government to cease its relentless efforts to muzzle journalists and media organizations, and to fulfil its obligations under domestic and international law to safeguard and respect the right to freedom of expression and media freedom.

Source: facebook.com/amnestyph

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[From the web] Thailand: More arrests amid ‘drastic’ emergency order banning gatherings -AI

#HumanRights #Solidarity Thailand: More arrests amid ‘drastic’ emergency order banning gatherings

Screen grabbed from http://www.amnesty.org

Responding to news that the Thai authorities have ordered a ban on gatherings of five or more people in Bangkok and on sharing information that “could create fear”, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said:

“This vague, drastic order will lead to more people unfairly arrested, detained and prosecuted.

“With further public assemblies expected to happen today, we urge the Thai authorities to engage in constructive dialogue with the protesters.

“The scale of today’s early morning arrests seems completely unjustified based on yesterday’s events. The assemblies were overwhelmingly peaceful. These moves are clearly designed to stamp out dissent, and sow fear in anyone who sympathizes with the protesters’ views. Peaceful protesters must be released immediately and unconditionally, and all those detained must have access to legal counsel.

Read complete article @ http://www.amnesty.org

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/10/thailand-more-arrests-amid-drastic-order/?fbclid=IwAR0E5j0DiSYOIGPerwKZnXz6Tvf8t55BobHMrhyZp3LG_RlZQL9uxx5IBYE

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[From the web] Senator Bong Go’s threat of “body bags” shows authorities’ dangerous COVID-19 response -Amnesty International

Senator Bong Go’s threat of “body bags” shows authorities’ dangerous COVID-19 response

Responding to Philippine Senator Bong Go’s statement about having body bags available for “drug addicts or peddlers of fake news”, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah said:

“While hospitals are pleading for body bags and other emergency supplies, callous threats from authorities show a tone-deaf government that is unwilling to keep everybody safe during this global pandemic. This dangerous rhetoric must stop now.

“Such dangerous language is never acceptable. Coming so soon after President Duterte’s alarming ‘shoot to kill’ order, this is a clear pattern of incitement that is consistent with the government’s general hostility towards human rights.

“The Senator’s comment also creates a chilling effect on journalists and whistle-blowers who seek to expose gaps and problems in the government’s COVID-19 response. Instead of issuing threats, the Philippine government should put all people’s rights to health and life at the centre of its plans and actions.”

Click the link below to read more:

http://www.amnesty.org.ph/news/bong-gos-threat-of-body-bags-covid-19-response/?fbclid=IwAR1nLfAhQcZKl2bzv1dx5ZfTAb6fuUEvXjQsIWuoxj6YBnTdAISq3RmvbIA

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[Statement] Digital surveillance to fight COVID-19 can only be justified if it respects human rights -AI

With governments across the world rapidly expanding the use of digital surveillance in an attempt to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International and other leading NGOs have set out strict conditions that must be met to safeguard human rights and prevent surveillance overreach.

More than 100 hundred civil society groups joined Amnesty in signing the statement, including Access Now, Human Rights Watch and Privacy International.

“Technology can play an important role in the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this does not give governments carte blanche to expand digital surveillance. The recent past has shown governments are reluctant to relinquish temporary surveillance powers. We must not sleepwalk into a permanent expanded surveillance state now,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech.

“Increased digital surveillance to tackle this public health emergency, can only be used if certain strict conditions are met. Authorities cannot simply disregard the right to privacy and must ensure any new measures have robust human rights safeguards. Wherever governments use the power of technology as part of their strategy to beat COVID-19, they must do so in a way that respects human rights.”

Source: www.amnesty.org

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[Urgent Action] Urgent action: Hundreds killed under Philippines’ new President -AI

Urgent action: Hundreds killed under Philippines’ new President

amnesty-logoHundreds of criminal suspects allegedly linked to the drug trade have been killed since June 30, the day President Duterte took office in the Philippines. Some of these cases may amount to extrajudicial executions.

Hundreds have been killed by police and vigilantes in the Philippines since June 30, President Duterte’s first day as the President of the Philippines. Amongst those killed, over 120 of the deceased remain unidentified. The alarming increase of unlawful killings, some of which may amount to extrajudicial executions, has been observed since the day President Duterte took office and vowed to crackdown on crime.

In a 5 June speech on national television, during his Presidential campaign, President Duterte appeared to encourage citizens to perform “duties” by killing suspected drug criminals. Since becoming President, Duterte has repeated his promise to stamp out drug crime, calling on law enforcement agencies “to double your efforts…triple them if need be…we will not stop until the last drug lord, last financier and last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground if they so wish”.

Under international law and standards, the use of force by police is strictly prohibited, except when absolutely necessary and proportionate. Police must apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and carry out their duties in a way that ensures full respect for the right to life, liberty and security of all persons, including those suspected of crime. In addition, the State has a duty to protect people from all forms of violence, including an obligation of due diligence to promptly, independently and impartially investigate unlawful killings.

Media reports have highlighted numerous cases as part of President Duterte’s so called “war on crime”. These include: father and son Renato Bertes, 47, and Jaybee Bertes, 28, killed in police custody after being brought into a police station in Metro Manila for drug testing; Julius Rabina, 18, shot dead by unidentified motorcycle gunmen who asked for his father, an apparent drug suspect, outside his house; Jefferson Bunuan, 20, and his cousin Mark Anthony, shot dead by police who raided a house they were in, looking for a suspected drug dealer.

Read full article @www.amnesty.org.ph

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[Press Release] Women gathered to mark the International Women’s Day -WMW

Women gathered to mark the International Women’s Day

Photo from WMW

Photo from WMW

Today, over five hundred (500) women gathered early in front of the University of Sto. Tomas to mark the International Women’s Day. This was the starting point of their march towards Mendiola where women affiliated with the World March of Women (WMW)-Pilipinas demanded accountability of the highest in command of the recent tragedy in Mamasapano.

World March of Women logo

The women’s march was joined by human rights groups Amnesty International, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), labor groups such as SENTRO and Partido ng Manggagawa, all calling for peace and self-determination in Mindanao and an end to the intervention in national affairs by the United States.

“The death of transwoman Jennifer Laude in the hands of a US soldier and the death of the child Sarah Panangulon in Mamasapano, are in the same context of US wars,” stated Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the WMW. “Olongapo murder suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton’s ship USS Peleliu ensures amphibious US presence in the Western Pacific, while the PNP SAF operation responsible for Sarah’s murder was clearly sponsored by the US war on terror,” she added.

The group underscored the economic interest of the US in Mindanao in particular, the Philippines and the region in general, as the US “pivot to Asia” strategy started in 2011, or the transfer of military resources to the region, coinciding with a Trans-Pacific Partnership Economic agreement. As a result, “women, children, the environment are considered collateral damages,” according to the WMW statement.

“Jennifer’s murder is a hate crime committed by a US soldier who enjoys the protection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” declared the group. “Even in court, the unequal relations manifest in allowing the attendance of several US military personnel while limiting Jennifer’s side to only her immediate family and her lawyers,” said their statement.

Carrying roses to symbolize their call for peace, the women also wore pink shirts with the slogan “Pagkain, hindi Bala.” They were demanding that President Benigno Aquino III be also held accountable for his role in the tragedy, as reports clearly pointed to his direct knowledge of the operation, beginning with the appointment of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima and strengthened by their correspondence. “Evidently, the only consideration of this operation was the US’s desire to get Marwan and show a positive development in its war on terror, without regard for the Muslim communities that would suffer as well as the peace process that would be compromised,” stated Virgie Suarez, Chairperson, of KAISA KA.

The WMW and supporting organizations lamented that the ongoing military offensive already displaced 8,130 families, with women bearing the most of the hardships and dangers that go with the need to evacuate. Young women and children become more prone to trafficking and prostitution.

They called for a political and economic solution, not war, to resolve the problems in the area. WMW also called for an end to the VFA and all agreements that “tie the country to an unequal defense relation with the US and make the government an accomplice to the US war crimes in its unending quest for world dominance.”

The program in Mendiola ended with the women’s movement’s emblematic song “Bread and Roses” as the women leaders demanded justice for all victims of US militarism. Similar marches were conducted by WMW members in Cavite, Cebu, Davao, and Gen. Santos City.

Participating organizations included Focus on the Global South, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), LBT groups, anti-trafficking groups Action against Violence and Exploitation, Inc. (ACTVE) and CATW-AP, prostitution survivor groups Bagong Kamalayan and Buklod, migrant groups such as Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA).

Women’s organizations present were Kababaihan-Pilipinas, KAISA-KA, KAMP, the indigenous women’s group LILAK, Piglas Kababaihan, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK),SARILAYA, Transform Asia, WomanHealth Phils., Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Welga ng Kababaihan, Women’s Crisis Center, Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE), and World March of Women – Pilipinas.

March 8, 2015
Contact Person: Jean Enriquez 0915 3178018

—-

Statement on International Women’s Day:

The Philippines Should Stop Being US’s Pawn and Warfront

Increased US militarization of the Philippines through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Asian Pivot and the soon-to-be-operational Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) makes living dangerous and doubly difficult for women and children. This has been made clear by the country’s experience with US’s Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines. Again, this is the lesson we can glean from the recent events: the murder of trans-woman Jennifer Laude on October 11, 2014, as well as the killing and displacement of Muslim civilians during and after the Mamasapano tragedy on January 25 this year.

The World March of Women-Philippines and other women’s organizations and individuals gathered today, supposedly to celebrate International Women’s Day, bemoan the Philippine government’s acquiescence to all US military trainings, exercises, troop deployment, prepositioning of war material, patrolling of Philippine waters and docking in Philippine ports of US warships and maintenance of military advisers. These are all for US wars.

Jennifer’s murder is not an ordinary crime as the President pictured it to be. It is clearly a hate crime committed by a US soldier who enjoys the protection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), hence the difficulty for Philippine police authorities to serve him an arrest warrant and present him in court for preliminary investigation. While custody comes with criminal jurisdiction over the crime, US authorities have custody of the accused Joseph Scott Pemberton. Even in court, the unequal relations manifest in allowing the attendance of several US military personnel while limiting Jennifer’s side to only her immediate family and her lawyers.

The urgency and secrecy of the special operation to get Marwan, carried-out for the US by the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), particularly the 84th Special Action Company skipped the PNP chain of command and supposedly defied the order by the President and Commander-in-Chief, Benigno C. Aquino III, to coordinate with the AFP. Evidently, the only consideration of this operation was the US’s desire to get Marwan and show a positive development in its war on terror as the ISIS continues to advance in several fronts in the Middle East and even in Europe. Hence, the result: a tragedy that befell 44 members of the PNP-SAF, 18 members of the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF), at least five Muslim civilians killed, including a girl named “Sarah”, more than a thousand displaced, and a compromised peace process for the Mindanao-Sulu area.

The AFP is now into an offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the MIFF. Already, this has displaced 8,130 families or 30,130 individuals. Women, the elderly and children bear most of the hardships and dangers that go with the need to evacuate. Young women and children become more prone to trafficking and prostitution. The current military offensive could increase the possibility of more terrorism, as extremist groups prey on the economic and social desperation of the communities. This requires a negotiated political solution, not war, to resolve the problems in the area.

The World March of Women is definitely against any action that terrorizes civilians. We condemn the US military that has been dismissing as collateral damage the massive destruction and carnage it has caused all over the world that spawn more terrorist groups. We call on the Aquino government to end the VFA and all agreements that tie the country to an unequal defense relation with the US and make the government an accomplice to the US war crimes in its unending quest for world dominance.

We call for peace and self-determination for Mindanao. We demand justice for all victims of US militarism!

Pagkain, hindi Bala. Give us bread and give us roses.
Justice For All! Accountability at the Highest Level!
Scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement! No To US Intervention!
Signatories:

Action against Violence and Exploitation, Inc. (ACTVE) • Amnesty International Philippines • Bagong Kamalayan • Buklod ng Kababaihan •Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) • Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) • Dindi Tan • Focus on the Global South •Freedom from Debt Coalition • Kababaihan-Pilipinas • Kaisa Ka • KAMP •Katutubong Lilak (Purple Action for Women’s Rights) • Nisa ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro • Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) • Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) • PAHRA • Piglas Kababaihan • Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) • Sarilaya • Sentro – Women • Transform Asia • WomanHealth Philippines • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) • Welga ng Kababaihan • Women’s Crisis Center Manila • Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality – YSAGE • World March of Women – Pilipinas • numerous courageous individuals

March 8, 2015
Contact Person: Jean Enriquez 0915 3178018

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[Video] Torture. More fun in the Philippines! -AI-Ph

Torture. More fun in the Philippines!
Published on Jan 26, 2015

Vote for this Video for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards

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Sign this petition:https://campaigns.amnesty.org/actions…

Will it be suffocation or beatings, waterboarding or electric shocks – the Wheel of Torture decides.

It was discovered in 2014 that police in Laguna, Philippines were using a ‘wheel of torture’ to decide which torture techniques to use on prisoners shocked the world. 28 January 2015 marks the one year anniversary of when the ‘Wheel of torture’ was first discovered during a routine visit by the Philippines Commission on Human Rights.

The ‘Wheel of torture’ was loosely based on the popular 1980’s game show ‘Wheel of fortune’. To mark the anniversary, we have produced a video that is a satirical take on the show, recreating the exciting, family atmosphere but contestants spin the wheel of torture. One contestant spins the wheel to try and win a lawyer, but ends up landing on Manny Pacman (beatings).

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[People] Secret Torture Chambers Exposed by Fr. Shay Cullen

Secret Torture Chambers Exposed
Fr. Shay Cullen

Who would ever imagine that a secret torture squad attached to the
Philippine National Police would use a crudely made “wheel of fortune”
to select the torture technique they would use on their victims? Torture
is outlawed by international convention and the Philippine Penal Code
yet in 2009 a special law Republic Act 9745 was passed to totally ban.
However, it is still common practice. The recently launched
investigative report by Amnesty International stated that police torture
“is commonplace in the Philippines and impunity for it is the norm . .
.” Titled “Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines,” the
Amnesty International researchers with local human rights defenders
uncovered secret detention centers and the notorious “Wheel of Fortune”
in a torture chamber in Laguna, South of Manila.

325-fr-shay-cullen

The shocking discovery indicated that this trained squad used torture
for a sordid and sick kind of entertainment. While the suspects screamed
through their gags from the excruciating pain of electric shock the
torturers laughed.

The US senate report on torture and disappearances of suspects details
shocking torture and abuse and many of the torture techniques detailed
in the report are similar to what the Philippine Police use also. The
Philippine Police trained in Fort Bragg and elsewhere in the USA may
have learned their torture techniques from their US trainers. We
sincerely hope not.

As many as forty three prisoner survivors, some rescued by Filipino
human rights campaigners who risk their lives to help the victims, said
they suffered grave torture. Twenty three of them were courageous and
defiant enough to file criminal charges against the police.

There is not much hope either among them that justice will ever be seen.
The police enjoy a high level of impunity. Death squads also murder
suspects. They are set up by military and local mayors, governors and
other powerful politicians to protect their interests, eliminate
political rivals or protect their secret criminal enterprise from
take-over by a rival. They also sow terror among the people and ensure
the reelection of the politician.

In May 2014 this year Human Rights Watch published a 71-page report
titled “One Shot to the Head: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City,
Philippines.” It documented interviews with the killers who said they
received text messages from the former mayor whom and when to kill
someone .They got paid as little as a hundred dollars. This week on
December 11 we honor Rogelio Butalid, a broadcast commentator, shot at
point blank range outside his radio station in Tagum City, Mindanao,
just one of many journalist murders over the past ten years by death squads.

No one has been held responsible or accountable for the many deaths.
Human rights advocates are calling for a law to hold the local mayors
responsible and blame-worthy. They will be penalized by being removed
from office for gross incompetency and dereliction of duty for torture
and death squad killings in their town or city.

The Amnesty International report on torture is no less horrific. It
reports that with the help of local human rights defenders and advocates
they interviewed as many as 55 torture victim-survivors, 21 of them were
children when abused and tortured. Two victims of torture were then shot
and left for dead but miraculously survived.

As many as 36 cases were referred to the Office of the Ombudsman but
unsurprisingly none were indicted. The investigating officers were
likely to have been threatened with a “shot to the head.”

The survivors of torture reported having been beaten, kicked, punched,
water-boarded (a near drowning torture technique), nearly suffocated
with plastic bags over their heads, given electric shocks, deprived of
sleep and forced to take stressful physical squatting. In one videotape,
one old man was seen naked with wire tied around his genitalia being
pulled by a police officer. The victim was later found beheaded.

Children too have been tortured, starved and killed in jails and prisons
that are renamed “Juvenile Homes” where the children are neglected,
abused, mistreated and jailed behind bars and metal screens.

A shocking and horrible photo of abused children was taken in the Manila
Reception Action Center (RAC), a place described as a Auschwitz-like
concentration camp in the heart of Manila five minutes from the office
of Mayor Estrada. The photo is that of a boy we named Francisco. His
naked, emaciated skeletal body was left thrown on the ground, allegedly
left to die without medical help. He was found with facial bruises when
rescued by charity workers.

The excuse of the staff is that they had no money to help him, that is a
lie and fabrication. Its the story line to get more money which is
disappearing in mysterious ways and too little going to feed, clothe and
support the children. The boy Francisco only had to be given a t-shirt
and shorts and taken to the hospital with other children in a similar
half-starved condition . The truth is that the money is allegedly
misappropriated and the Commission on Audit (COA) need to audit the
facility. Also they need a clean, well managed facility in the
countryside under the supervision of the trusted office of Secretary
Corazon Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Manila is so rich it could build and maintain two such centers.

Other children too were left in similar conditions. The report documents
21 children who were tortured. All this is difficult to read and
comprehend how humans can inflict such terrible cruel torture on
children and adults. The psychological torture of threats and fear is
equally abhorrent. One thing is clear, we cannot remain inactive,
silent, non-supportive and indifferent to these grim realities exposed
by children’s rights and human rights defenders working with Amnesty
International.

The truth is there for all to see and read .We have to act as best we
can to save more victims and put an end to these evil practices. We can
help by speaking out, joining campaigns for human rights, join a rally,
by taking a stand with victims of illegal detention and children in
jails. We can inspire others by showing respect for the rights of
others. That’s what Jesus did and taught. That’s why we have Christmas.
shaycullen@preda.org

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[Press Release] Philippines: Five years later, no convictions under landmark anti-torture law -AI

Philippines: Five years later, no convictions under landmark anti-torture law

Philippine authorities are failing to tackle torture as not a single perpetrator has been convicted under a landmark anti-torture law that came into effect five years ago today, despite evidence that the practice is prevalent, Amnesty International said.

amnesty_logo

The Anti-Torture Act, passed on 10 November 2009, recognized torture as a separate crime and provided a number of important guarantees to aid torture survivors seeking redress. But no one has been convicted under the Act and very few cases have reached the prosecution stage.

“Five years without a single torture survivor obtaining justice shows that this law, which could make a genuine difference towards ending torture in the Philippines, risks becoming nothing but a piece of paper. The government must step up to its commitment to stamp out torture once and for all,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“Torture in the Philippines has persisted for decades, and those responsible almost always evade justice. We continue to receive harrowing reports of the widespread use of torture by security forces – in effect, no one in police detention is safe.”

Although torture is known to be practiced by a wide range of security forces in the Philippines, reports of torture overwhelmingly indicate the participation of police officers, often against common criminal suspects. Those most at risk of being tortured or being subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment after arrest include suspected juvenile offenders, repeat offenders and police informants looking to “get out”.

In January 2014, a “wheel of torture” was notoriously discovered in a secret detention facility in Laguna province, where police officers used it to decide which method of torture to employ on detainees. Most of the 43 detainees found at the facility were believed to have been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, and 23 of them have filed complaints.

Yet despite high levels of media interest in the Laguna detention facility, all of these cases are still awaiting prosecution ten months after its discovery. Five of these torture survivors have already withdrawn their affidavits.

“The Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice, through its National Bureau of Investigation and National Prosecution Service, must do more to ensure that all reports of torture are properly investigated, that those responsible are held to account and that all victims receive comprehensive reparations,” said Shetty.

In November 2012, President Benigno Aquino passed Administrative Order 35, which sets up special teams of prosecutors across the country to investigate cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. Yet two years later, these teams are still only in the training phase and it is unclear if they are present across the whole country.

In May 2014, Amnesty International launched its new global campaign Stop Torture, where the Philippines is the focus country for Asia. In December, a high level international delegation from Amnesty International will launch a major report highlighting the persistent practice of torture in the Philippines, the lack of accountability for torturers and the barriers to justice for victim-survivors of torture. Amnesty International takes this opportunity to engage constructively with the Philippine government with a view to stop torture in the Philippines.

Cases

The following are three examples of the use of torture and the culture of impunity around it in the Philippines:

In August 2007, activist Raymond Manalo escaped military custody after being tortured and forcibly disappeared for 18 months. He and families of other torture victims accused a military general of involvement in their torture and disappearance in a high profile case. It was only in December 2011 when the regional trial court in Bulacan province ordered an arrest warrant for retired General Jovito Palparan, and it took another two and a half years before he was arrested in August 2014. He is currently being detained under special conditions in a military facility.

In August 2010, torture once more hit the headlines in the Philippines when a mobile phone video of a man being tortured was broadcast on television. The man, identified as Darius Evangelista, a porter and repeat offender, has not been seen alive ever since. Investigators found that Darius was arrested and disappeared in March that year, and that after he was tortured, fellow detainees witnessed an order being given by the police to “finish him off”. The Evangelista family filed a torture case in court in September 2011 – the first filed under the Anti-Torture Act. More than three years later, of the seven police officers charged, three have “surrendered”, the primary suspect has been arrested (in 2013), and three remain at large. The trial is on-going.

In October 2013, Alfreda Disbarro, a single mother from Parañaque City, was arrested, tortured and accused by police of being a drug dealer. In fact, she was an occasional former police informant who wanted out from working with the local police. Once police had taken her to their headquarters, they repeatedly beat her, poked fingers into her eyes, and forced a mop into her mouth. Over the following days Alfreda was in terrible pain. During this period she was photographed with Php300 (US$7) and a sachet of drugs, and told to sign a blank sheet of paper.

Alfreda’s case would have been just one more of many undocumented and unreported cases of torture, if her family did not courageously seek the help of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and human rights organizations like Amnesty International. Apparently persuaded by an international letter writing campaign, the police in May this year started an investigation into the case by its own Internal Affairs Service (IAS). As of October 2014, Alfreda’s family awaits the decision of the regional head of the Philippine National Police on the IAS investigation. Separately the CHR has found sufficient basis to endorse Alfreda’s case to the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation to determine if a criminal case can be filed in court.

Public document
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For more information please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PRESS RELEASE
10 November 2014

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[Blog] To Love is Beyond Religion. By Jose Mario De Vega

To Love is Beyond Religion
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to BBC News Africa report, “Sudan woman faces death for apostasy”, May 15th regard to the case of a woman who has been sentenced by a Sudanese court by hanging to death for apostasy.

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She was adjudged to have abandoned her religious faith, “after she married a Christian man.”

I overwhelmingly concur to the condemnation of the sentence by Amnesty International which was “handed down by a judge in Khartoum”, as “appalling and abhorrent”.

Nonetheless, I would like to state that the said “judgment” by that Sudanese court is not only appalling and abhorrent, but also preposterous and undeniably barbaric!

It is also my firm view that that Khartoum judge is not only ridiculous, but super stupid!

The “ruling” is appalling and abhorrent by virtue of the fact that the so-called court has invaded the private domain of the personal feelings of the woman. What is the right of that stupid judge to decide who that woman should love and marry?

Who the devil is he? And what on earth is the legal basis of their “law”?

To love and to cherish another fellow human being is an utterly private matter and the bloody state (whatever or whoever it is) has no right to control the heart and the mind and the soul of an individual!

To marry someone and to decide who you want to spend the rest of your life is beyond religion!

I don’t give a damn, even if “Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law.”

First point: the majority must respect the right of the minority. The government must respect all citizens regardless of who they are and irrespective of their stations and background sin life!

Second point: their so-called Islamic law must not be used to violate the right of those people who does not belong to them or even those people who already wishes not to practice the dominant religion or faith. Further, that ‘law’ must also respect those people who decided not to have any religion at all!

Third point: the individual is the sole master of his or herself and the government (whatever the hell is its type or form) have no right to control or to dictate or to intervene how the hell that individual wishes to live his or her personal and emotional life.

Fourth point: Sudan must be aware that whatever the hell it does will reflect to the world community.

Hence, base on the following reasons, it is also my considered view and so held that the said “judgment” of that stupid so-called court is preposterous and incontestably barbaric.

Consider the very words of that bastard judge which was quoted by the AFP reports:

“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death…”

Question:

Is it because the woman does not want to return to Islam, she deserves to die by hanging?

How about her right to choose what to believe or not to believe? Does it mean that under Sudan’s Islamic law — there is no such thing as the right to choose? How about the right to live?

What Sudan did is a grave violation of International Law. According to Wikipedia:

“The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, considers the recanting of a person’s religion a human right legally protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

“The Committee observes that the freedom to ‘have or to adopt’ a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one’s current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views … Article 18.2 bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.”

Not content with the death sentence, the stupid judge also “sentenced the woman to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery – because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid under Islamic law.”

Comment:

First, it was apostasy, now it is adultery.

This is confusing and truly mind-boggling! How the hell could the woman be guilty of adultery when she only loved her husband?

Adultery in its basic definition means having an extra-marital affair. Nowhere it is stated in the facts of the case that such is the case, hence, how could the woman be convicted of the said crime?

There you have it! This outrageous case has clearly shown the inhumanity of Sudan’s law and the extreme stupidity of the judge.

Her conviction of “adultery” stems on the ground that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Sudan’s version of Islamic law, which specifically says that Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims.

So to Sudan, adultery is violating their religious prohibition.

What an invention of idiotic proportion! Such a super idiotic definition and moronic concept! What a shame!

According further to the report:

“Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic cleric spoke with her in a caged dock for about 30 minutes…

“Then she calmly told the judge: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.””

According to Amnesty International the said the woman, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, “was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood.”

The sole issue of this case can be sum up as: the right of an individual to choose any religion or not to choose at all!

The debate on apostasy

The report lucidly narrated the “long-running debate in Islam over whether apostasy is a crime.”

There is no shadow of doubt that they, the so-called “faithful” are divided among themselves and have a perennial problem with regard to the interpretation of their book that governs their law.

Why?

For it is beyond dispute that some liberal scholars hold the view that apostasy is not a crime and they “back up their argument by citing the Koranic verse which states: “There shall be no compulsion in religion.””

However, “others say apostasy is tantamount to treason – and refer to what Prophet Muhammad said: “It is not permissible to spill the blood of a Muslim except in three [instances]: A life for a life; a married person who commits adultery; and one who forsakes his religion and separates from the community.””

The pertinent and relevant question here is, who if ever among these two opposing and contradictory views is correct? What view must govern?

It is my firm view that the conflict must be resolve by liberally construing the provision of the ‘law’ in favor of the woman.

The court should have rule in favor of toleration, of love, respect and humanity!

I concur with the contention of Manar Idriss of Amnesty’s Sudan researcher in condemning the punishments when she stated that “apostasy and adultery should not be considered crimes.”

Indeed, as she categorically maintained:

“The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent…”

I applaud the collective act of the “embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands” in issuing a joint statement that clearly expressed “deep concern” about the case of the said woman and urged Sudan “to respect the right to freedom of religion.”

The report also highlighted Amnesty’s claim that “the woman was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013, and the court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when she said she was a Christian and not a Muslim.”

Comment:

The woman was originally charged by “adultery”, yet I am wondering: what is the power of the court to add another charge against her? Does it mean that, if she will eat pork in her jail or if she will pray using the rosary; will she be indicted again the third time for another charge?

This is utterly laughable and ridiculous to the maximum!

I joined the international humanistic community in calling for her immediate release.

Again to restate my vehement view, to love is beyond religion and the bloody state have no right whatsoever to interfere and/or control her heart, mind and soul!

Your religion is yours, and my heart is mine and it is mine alone….

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy and Social Science lecturer

College of Liberal Arts
Social Science Department
Technological University of the Philippines

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[Statement] Empowering the Torture Victims is a key in Fighting Impunity -UATC

Empowering the Torture Victims is a key in Fighting Impunity
UATC Support Statement on
Amnesty International’s Global Campaign Against Torture
13 May 2014

Torture is an affront to human life and dignity that cannot be justified under any circumstances in any parts of the world.

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The United Against Torture Coalition – Philippines (UATC) restates its commitments to fight against torture and end impunity by upholding the basic human rights and dignity of every individual as it joins the Amnesty International in the launching of the Global Campaign Against Torture.

The global campaign, which will be carried out through holding of series of public events, is aimed to remind all States including the Philippine government of their obligations to respect and guarantee the right of every person to be free from torture and ill-treatment, to effectively bring those responsible to justice, and to guarantee reparative measures to victims and their families.

The UATC- Philippines laments that the practice of torture continue to occur in a widespread and systematic manner everywhere in the world. The Philippines is no exemption. Despite the enactment a domestic law criminalizing torture in 2009 which is purportedly aimed at ending impunity and giving meaning to the Convention Against Torture to which the Philippines is state party since June 1986, torture is continuously being committed by government authorities or agents of the state particularly the police and the military usually to punish, to obtain information or a confession, to take revenge on a person or persons, and to sow terror and fear not only to victims but also to their families and the larger society.

The clear rift between policies and practices of torture in the Philippines is once again conspicuously displayed in the recent news about existence of the “wheel of torture” at the Philippine National Police (PNP) satellite detention facility in Biñan, Laguna.

It reveals not only that torture is still prevalent, but it is being committed with total impunity. The Philippine Justice system seems to be unmoved by these legal and institutional reforms as no perpetrators until now are held to account.

Take for example the documented torture cases of Lenin Salas, Ronnel Victor R. Cabais and Abdul-Khan Ajid which are faced with a number of legal impediments such as the slow and ineffective police investigations, difficulty in positively identifying the perpetrators, inaccessibility of prompt, thorough, impartial and independent medical care and evaluation and the risk of reprisals against victims and witnesses.

While it is imperative for the Philippine government to address the existing legal gaps and limitations in the implementation of the law in order to ensure accountability, it also needs to focus its attentions and efforts on the prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of torture victims.

One way to ensure its prevention is to guarantee and strictly observed the rights of any person under arrest or placed under custody particularly the right to medical examination within 48 hours and in every level of the chain of custody.

Torture victims should also be accorded with immediate medical and psychological care through high quality, accessible and appropriate rehabilitation program regardless of the prosecution and conviction of the torture cases. Though, the Philippine government has just approved a Comprehensive Rehabilitation Programs for Torture Victims which was crafted by inter-agencies headed by the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), it is still very unclear how torture victims can access the available government services and if it has the necessary budget lines to ensure the provisions of rehabilitation program to torture victims.  The Philippine government must therefore look at rehabilitation as the means to empower the torture victims in order for them to resume a full life as possible and to restore their situation in all likeliness that it would have existed if torture had not been committed.

The UATC – Philippines believes that empowering torture victims is a key not only for rebuilding their lives but also for continuing their quest for justice. However, this can only be possible if the Philippine government and all states can guarantee the freedom of every person from torture and other forms of state violence.

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The UATC- Philippines is composed of more than thirty (30) human rights organizations led by Amnesty International-Philippines, Balay Rehabilitation Center, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), Medical Action Group (MAG), and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

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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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[From the web] Philippines: Officers in secret police detention cell play ‘torture roulette’ with inmates -AIph

Philippines: Officers in secret police detention cell play ‘torture roulette’ with inmates
January 27, 2014

The discovery of a secret torture cell in a police intelligence facility in the Philippines where officers physically abused inmates for fun in a game of “roulette” shows the authorities’ pitiful lack of control over the police force in the country, Amnesty International said today.

The organization is calling on the Aquino administration to act immediately to put an end to routine torture under their watch.

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“For police officers to use torture ‘for fun’ is despicable. These are abhorrent acts. Suspending officers is not enough. Errant police personnel and their commanding officers should be held accountable in a court of law,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher.

“Torture is a criminal act, and the leadership of the Philippine National Police must end its practice within its ranks. The authorities must ensure that torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is not tolerated.”

Read full article @www.amnesty.org

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[Press Release] Hundreds of cyclists demand passage and implementation of human rights laws -AIPh

Hundreds of cyclists demand passage and implementation of human rights laws

Photo grabbed from AIph FB

Photo grabbed from AIph FB

 

More than a thousand participants of the Amnesty International Philippines’ Bike for Rights PadyaKarapatan 2013 cycled through 7 cities of Metro Manila reminding the Aquino administration and the 16th Congress of their obligation to enact and implement legislation necessary for protecting human rights of Filipino citizens.

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The 78-kilometer Bike for Rights which is now on its 19th year carried the theme ‘Sampung Tanong ng Bayan sa Pamahalaang Aquino at Kongreso’ reiterating the 10 Point Human Rights Legislative Agenda of Amnesty International Philippines and its previous calls and demands upon the Aquino government.

“Before the 2010 and 2013 elections, Amnesty International presented its Philippine Human Rights Agenda to the candidates and promises were subsequently made. As the year ends, we ask 10 questions – ‘Sampung Tanong ng Bayan sa Pamahalaang Aquino at Kongreso’ – to remind the Aquino government and the 16th Congress about important human rights agenda which they need to act upon immediately starting 2014,” explained Dr. Aurora A. Parong, Director of Amnesty International Philippines.

The 10 questions highlighted, among others, the need for Congressional oversight in the implementation of the Anti-Torture Law, ratification of the International Convention on Enforced disappearances, amendment of the Witness Protection Program, review of the Cybercrime Prevention Act and repeal of discriminatory laws against women, gender and ethnic minorities, as well as the strengthening of the Commission on Human Rights through the adoption of its Charter.

Amnesty International recognizes that many good laws for the protection of human rights were enacted in recent years. Yet the organization is deeply concerned on the continuing crimes and abuses as well as the failure of the Philippine criminal justice system to ensure that justice is served fairly and without delay to victims of human rights violations. Impunity exists, perpetrators of crimes and human rights abuses are not prosecuted and justice is not served to the victims and their families.

“Our laws penalize killings, torture and other human rights violations, however, the killings continue, torture continues, and enforced disappearances remain realities in our country. Three journalists were killed during the past of two weeks. Perpetrators of these killings and abuses get away with their crimes. The good laws do not positively impact on people’s lives,” added Dr. Parong.

Three journalists were killed in the last two weeks – Rogelio Butalid was shot dead in Tagum City on Wednesday while Michael Milo of Tandag City and Jash Dignos of Valencia City was killed on 29 November according to news sources.

Amnesty International reminds the Philippine government to work towards better governance, at the national, provincial and municipal levels, by combating impunity within their jurisdiction. The criminal justice system must be made to work effectively towards penalizing perpetrators of abuses to end impunity and prevent extra judicial killings, unlawful arrests, secret detention, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“Amnesty International Philippines calls on the Aquino government to take immediate steps to diligently implement pro-human rights laws and enhance our system of laws by acting on the10 points human rights agenda within the 16th Congress.” concluded the Director.

The Bike for Rights: PadyaKarapatan 2013 culminates Amnesty International Philippines’ celebration the 65th year of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The cycling event started in Quezon City traversing though Marikina, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, Manila and back to the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

The complete Amnesty International’s Legislative Agenda to the 16th Congress can be downloaded here: bit.ly/legagenda16th

Amnesty International Philippines
Press Release
15 December 2013

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[Statement] “ Kulang-kulang na pamamahala, tao ang kawawa !” Dapat Tao Muna !

SIGN-ON STATEMENT/PIRMA NG SUPORTA

2013 INTERNATIONAL HR WEEK CELEBRATION
65TH YEAR OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF
HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR)

“ KULANG-KULANG NA PAMAMAHALA, TAO ANG KAWAWA !”
DAPAT TAO MUNA !

Sa ika-65 taon ng UDHR at ika-20 taon ng Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action on Human Rights, marami at naging makabuluhan pagtangkilik at proteksyon ang natamo na para sa Karapatang Pantao sa buong mundo. Subalit sa kabila ng mga tagumpay, marami at mabigat pa rin ang pangangailangan sa patuloy na pagsulong ng mga Karapatan kasabay ng mga makabagong hamon.

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Kasama sa mga matinding hamon para sa Pilipinas ay ang climate change o pagbabago sa klima ng mundo bunga ng hindi makataong mga polisiya at programa ng mga bansa at ng mga pamahalaan sa pag-unlad – tulad ng agresibo at abusadong industrialisasyon, pagmimina, pag-sira sa ating mga kagubatan, atbp. Isa pang mabigat na hamon ay ang pamamahala na hindi nakabatay sa karapatang-pantao (rights-based governance) kung kaya’t kulang-kulang at hindi komprehensibo ang pagtugon sa ating mga karapatan. Hinamon ng 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, aang lahat ng bansa na magpatupad ng national human rights action plan. Sampung taong nakalipas, wala pa rin nito sa Pilipinas.

Para sa December 10 International HR Day, makiki-isa tayo para sa mga naging biktima at nakaligtas sa trahedyang “Yolanda”, sa lindol sa Bohol, sa Zamboanga Siege at iba pang mga hagupit ng tao at kalikasan.

Maki-isa tayo sa mga naging biktima ng kalupitan ng tao at sa mga kakulangan ng pamahalaan.

1. Dapat TAO Muna! Dahil ang TAO ang sentrong dahilan at layunin ng pamahalaan at pamamahala, lalo na sa panahon ng krisis sanhi man ng tao o ng kalikasan. Ang dignidad at naka-ugat na mga karapatang pantao ay dapat laging itaguyod, ipagtanggol at pangalagaaan. Ang bawat bulnerableng tao lalo na ang mga kabataan at mga kababaihan ay unahin at masinsing paglingkuran ayon sa pangangailangan.

2. Dapat TAO Muna! Dahil obligasyon ng pamahalaan na palahukin ang pinakamalawak na bilang ng mga mamamayan – katuwangin ang civil society at non-government organizations – sa pagkaroon ng malawak na konsultasyon sa pagpapasinop sa komprehensibong pagtugon sa kabuoang pangangailangan ng mga mga biktima at mga nakaligtas mula sa mga natural at gawang-taong kalamidad.
Dapat maging bukas ang pamahalaan sa pagtugon sa mga pagsubaybay at mekanismo ng paniningil ng mga mamamayan hinggil sa equitableng paglagak ng pinansya, tulong sa mga biktima at hustisya. Walang isa man ang dapat malimutan.

3. Dapat TAO Muna! Ang mga polisya at programang pangkaunlaran ay dapat sumusunod sa pamantayan ng karapatang pantao at sa pag-unlad ng tao lalo na ng bulnerableng sector at hindi para sa bulsa o kapangyarihan ng i-ilan.

4. Dapat TAO Muna! Magkaroon at isapubliko ang Human Rights Action Plan. Dapat din nitong lamanin ang mga komprehensibong pagtugon sa mga natural at gawang-taong kalamidad na base sa mga prinsipyo ng karapatang pantao.

DAPAT TAO MUNA !

Nakiki-isa ako/kami sa mga panawagan :

1. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
2. Amnesty International– Philippines (AI-Philippine)
3. Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)
4. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
5. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
6. Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearance (AFAD)
7. Balay Rehabilitation Center
8. Center for Migrants Advocacy
9. Families and Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
10. Medical Action Group (MAG)
11. Partido Manggagawa (PM)
12. Sarilaya
13. Sulong Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human
Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)

14. Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH.com)

[Event] Bike for Rights 2013 -AI Ph

Join Amnesty International Philippines’ Bike for Rights 2013
#BFR2013 #padyakarapatan2013

AI Bike for Rights

15 December 2013, run starts at 6:00am at the Quezon City memorial Circle

Registration Fee:
P300.00 – Jersey AND snacks
(limited supply and available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis)
P 50.00 – Snacks ONLY

*certificates and raffle prizes await cyclists who will finish the event

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Registration is every Sunday from 7am – 10am starting November 17 at QCMC Gate facing North Ave., Mall of Asia near Jetti Gas Station and UP Diliman Palma Hall steps

Or you can visit the Amnesty International Philippines Office: 18-A Marunong St., Bgy. Central, Q.C. Tel. Nos. 4338100, 3764342

Route:
Start (Phase 1) Quezon City Memorial Circle – Commonwealth Avenue – Katipunan Rd. – Marikina – Marcos Hi-way – A. Rodriguez – Ortigas Ave. – Dr. Sixto Antonio – Shaw Blvd. – West Capitol Drive – Pioneer St. – Boni Ave. Francisco – J.P. Rizal – Pasong Tamo – Buendia – K. Jalandoni – PICC (stop over)
(Phase 2 ) Roxas Blvd. – Luneta – A. Bonifacio – ADVA Circle – A. Soriano – Intramuros – Postal Bank – Jones BridgeQuintin Paredes – Reina Regente – J. Abad Satos – Rizal Ave. – Sgt. Rivera – Araneta Ave. – Quezon Ave. – Quezon City Memorial Circle (Finish)

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[Press Release] Civil Society Organisations demand meaningful engagement with ASEAN human rights bodies

Civil Society Organisations demand meaningful engagement with ASEAN human rights bodies

Civil Society from a number of ASEAN countries have just convened at the 6th Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights in Jakarta from 1-2 October 2013. Over 80 participants from more than 59 organizations, both within and outside the ASEAN region gathered to discuss a range of issues, including strategies for bringing about meaningful engagement with ASEAN human rights mechanisms. The Consultation was co-organized by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights organization, the Commission of the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), and a network of ASEAN civil society – SAPA Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights.

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The Consultation was encouraged by the efforts of individual members of AICHR to turn it into an independent body actively protecting human rights and applying international human rights standards, but regretted that AICHR as a whole has remained closed to dialogue and has achieved little, not least because it is paralysed by political interests and the veto powers that every member state has through decision-making by consensus only. In comparison, the ACWC is much more open to dialogue and cooperation with civil society.

Evelyn Balais Serrano, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA, explained: “We hope that the Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights continues to be used as a platform for dialogue, cooperation and coordination for ASEAN civil society’s regional human rights work and for engagement with AICHR and ACWC.”

The two main issues discussed during the Consultation were the review of the AICHR Terms of Reference (TOR) which should commence in 2014; and the issue of business and human rights in ASEAN.

The current AICHR TOR does not provide a detailed protection mandate protection that would explicitly enable it to respond to human rights violations and issues in the ASEAN region. Speakers and participants of the Regional Consultation discussed the need for the AICHR to receive a stronger mandate when the TOR is reviewed. However, the existing TOR has already provided a range of opportunities for protection work. Dr Yuval Ginbar, a Legal Adviser for Amnesty International stated: “So far during their first term, both the AICHR (2009-2012) and ACWC (2010-2013) have adopted a narrow interpretation of their protection mandates. the AICHR has not seized these opportunities to protect people from human rights violations. Even pending the revision, the AICHR should broaden its understanding of its protection mandate, as well as fully implement its current mandate including in fields such as encouraging ratification of human rights treaties and obtaining information on human rights from Member States”.

A Philippines participant, Ms Sunshine Serrano of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines said: “As part of our commitment to ensure promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN regional, we (civil society) want to continue our efforts to engage with the AICHR, even when currently most of the communications with them is a one-way traffic.”

Having two bodies working on human right in ASEAN, civil society views the importance for the AICHR and the ACWC to work together and engage with civil society. Muhammad Jailani of the Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia) commented: “The AICHR and the ACWC, have to develop open discussion with civil society and the people of ASEAN as a whole, including children.”

The Consultation also identified the lack of support from member states of ASEAN to the AICHR and the ACWC. Joseph Wah from Burma Partnership emphasised: “In order to be able to work effectively, governments of ASEAN must provide the AICHR and the ACWC with sufficient human and financial resource, and also independent secretariats”.

The 6th Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights concluded that the review of the TOR should be carried out in a transparent way, with participation of civil society. Chalida Tajaroensuk, the co-convenor of SAPA TFAHR hope that the review of the TOR will ensure engagement with civil society. “Engagement means not only regulations providing for meetings with civil society but a meaningful engagement, where the collective voice of civil society is considered when the AICHR does its work”

Evelyn Balais Serrano also reiterated: “We welcome the AICHR’s effort to finalize the Guidelines on Relations with Civil Society Organizations and call on it to ensure that the Guidelines facilitate meaningful and mutually beneficial engagement while respecting the independence of CSOs”

Jakarta, 2 October 2013

For further information please contact:

Evelyn Balais-Serrano (Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA; evelyn@forum-asia.org )
Chalida Tajaroensuk (Executive Director of People’s Empowerment Foundation – Thailand; chalida.empowerment@gmail.com
Haris Azhar (Coordinator of KontraS; harisazhar@kontras.org )
Atnike Nova Sigiro (Program Manager ASEAN Advocacy of FORUM-ASIA; atnike@forum-asia.org )

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[Announcement] AI-Ph Job vacancy

Amnesty International Philippines is looking for experienced and passionate individuals on human rights to join its team

Finance Officer
Permanent Position

AI small> Mainly responsible for the implementation of AIPh Financial Policies through the development of appropriate procedures, guidelines, forms and controls
> Ensure implementation of control within financial transactions including cash advances and liquidations, petty cash funds, cash receipts and receipt books
> Consolidate the annual operational budget and budget for funding applications in coordination with other staff and departments for the consideration and approval of the Section Director
> Manage the office expenses within the agreed budget and keep accurate track of expenses
> Assists in the development of appropriate reports and financial status documents and the implementation of regular financial reviews
> Assists in the annual external financial audit and quarterly internal audit of the organization

Application deadline: October 24, 2013 (Thursday)
Send completed application form and portfolio of work to jobsaiph@gmail.com

Application form can be downloaded at http://www.bit.ly/aiphjobform

For further information, please contact us at (632) 4338100

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[International/Solidarity] Netherlands Supreme Court hands down historic judgment over Srebrenica genocide -AI

Netherlands Supreme Court hands down historic judgment over Srebrenica genocide
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
6 September 2013

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A Dutch Supreme Court judgment finding the state liable for the deaths of three Muslim men amid the Srebrenica genocide marks a significant victory in the decades-long search for accountability, Amnesty International said today.

“Nearly two decades on from Srebrenica, this Dutch case marks the first time an individual government has been held to account for the conduct of its peacekeeping troops under a UN mandate,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

According to the court, Dutch troops serving as UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica sent three Bosniak Muslim men away from a “safe area” on 13 July 1995. This effectively handed them over to Bosnian Serb forces, who went on to kill some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys; many of their bodies have still not been found.

Rizo Mustafic, an electrician, as well as the brother and father of Hasan Nuhanovic, an interpreter who assisted the Dutch battalion of UN peacekeepers (Dutchbat) in Srebrenica, died because the troops sent them away from a “safe area” under their control. Nuhanovic’s mother was also killed, but her death was not included in the current case.

They were expelled from the peacekeepers’ compound despite the Dutch troops having witnessed multiple incidents of Bosnian Serb forces mistreating or killing men outside the “safe area”.

The Supreme Court decision upholds a July 2011 local appeals court ruling in The Hague, in a civil case brought by relatives of the three men who were killed.

“This is a historic victory for the relatives of those who were killed in this case, but also marks a symbolic step for the thousands of other victims of Europe’s worst crimes under international law since the Second World War,” said Tigani.

The Dutch state has faced several lawsuits in the past in relation to its role in the Srebrenica genocide, but this is the first time it has been found responsible in a civil suit for any of the deaths.

“This Dutch Supreme Court ruling makes crystal clear that states can be held responsible for the conduct of international peacekeepers,” said Tigani.

“It should pave the way for the Dutch government to provide full reparation – including compensation – to the relatives who brought this case, as well as other family members of victims of the Srebrenica genocide.”

Background
Past attempts to hold international peacekeepers criminally responsible for human rights violations have been unsuccessful, including in cases involving UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, and at the European Court of Human Rights.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has charged former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic and former Bosnian Serb Army General Ratko Mladic with genocide in Srebrenica and other crimes under international law during the 1992-1995 armed conflict in Bosnia.

Amnesty International has repeatedly highlighted the more than 10,000 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances dating back to the conflict.

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[In the news] Amnesty International to elected execs: Act on rights abuses | Sun.Star

Amnesty International to elected execs: Act on rights abuses | Sun.Star.
By Abigail C. Malalis
May 29, 2013

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AMNESTY International-Philippines (AIPh) challenged newly elected government officials to act further on the rising number of victims of human rights abuses in the country.

AIPh made the call on Tuesday as it launched the Amnesty International Report 2013 in Cagayan de Oro City, 15 days after the May 2013 midterm elections.

The launch was simultaneously held with its 52nd anniversary.

The AI Report compiled facts on the state of the world’s human rights, covering 159 countries and territories.

Dr. Aurora Corazon A. Parong, AIPh director, said insecurities were observed even in areas where armed conflict is absent and the number of people living below poverty line is growing.

“The world is becoming increasingly dangerous especially for refugees and migrants including Filipinos. We see insecurity in our country even in areas where there is no armed conflict. Poverty and unemployment persists. The local government officials play a key role in turning around the situation of misery and insecurity,” Parong said in a statement.

Read full article @www.sunstar.com.ph

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