Tag Archives: human rights abuses

[Appeal] Enhance the International Legal Framework to Protect Human Rights from Corporate Abuse -Treaty Alliance

Join the movement of hundreds of groups around the world calling for a binding international treaty to address corporate human rights abuses!

SIGN THE STATEMENT here http://www.treatymovement.com/sign-on

Enhance the International Legal Framework to Protect Human Rights from Corporate Abuse

We, the signatories to this joint statement,

Welcome the establishment at the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council of the “open-ended intergovernmental working group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, the mandate of which shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises” (res 26/9). We call on all civil society organizations and States to actively and constructively participate in this process.

Treaty Website Logo 2

We are convinced of the need to enhance the international legal framework to protect human rights in the context of business operations. We are also mindful of the urgent need to improve access to justice, remedy and reparations for victims and to stop corporate human rights abuses. The treaty process complements other instruments and initiatives in the field of business and human rights.

On the process and participation of States and civil society

There is a large and growing group of human rights organizations, social movements, affected communities and other civil society organizations involved in this process. The strong mobilization at the time of the Human Rights Council decision to start this process gathered more than 600 signatures (from at least 90 countries) in support of a Joint Statement and ensured the presence of numerous national and international organizations in Geneva in June 2014.

With regard to the procedures to be followed by the Intergovernmental Working Group, it is important from the outset that the ground rules ensure full transparency and enable a participative process towards the elaboration of this legally binding instrument.

The process of elaboration of the prospective treaty should address the needs and realities of people and communities whose human rights have been infringed, or are being threatened, by corporate conduct.

We call on all States to actively participate in good-faith and constructively in the development of this treaty. States and the IGWG should safeguard their integrity from undue influence by actors from or related to the private sector whose primary interest in the process falls outside the objective of promotion and protection of human rights.

The existing rules for the participation of observers with ECOSOC status in the Intergovernmental Working Group should be applied. Special attention should be given to the participation of representatives from communities and organizations of people affected by transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

On the format, scope and content of the treaty

We reaffirm the content of the Treaty Alliance’s Joint Statement adopted prior to the decision of the Human Rights Council of June 2014. A new phase starts now with the establishment of the open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group and the preparations for its first session on 6-10 July 2015. With a view to achieving meaningful progress at this session, we consider that the following elements must be discussed:

a) The treaty should require States to adopt legislation and other measures requiring TNCs and other business enterprises to adopt policies and procedures aimed at preventing, stopping and redressing adverse human rights impacts wherever they operate or cooperate. These measures should also cover business operations and relationships taking place in countries other than the countries where the business may be domiciled or headquartered. Companies should be subjected to appropriate sanctions for their failure to adopt such policies and procedures.

b) The treaty should clarify the kind of company conduct that will give rise to legal liability (civil, criminal and administrative). Through this international instrument, States will have the obligation to translate these standards into national legislation and enforce them. Offences committed against the environment and impacting adversely human rights should be included. Provisions for international legal and judicial cooperation among countries should facilitate the investigation and trial of cases of transnational nature.

c) The treaty should elaborate on the modalities in which TNCs and other business enterprises participate in the commission of human rights abuses, including corporate complicity and parent company responsibility for the offences committed by its subsidiary. Corporate legal responsibility should not exclude the legal responsibility of company directors or managers.

d) The treaty should allow people with a claim access to judicial remedies not only in their own home States, but in all other States that have jurisdiction over the concerned business enterprise. The jurisdiction of national courts of these States should extend to deal with these cases separately and jointly, and effectively guarantee access to justice to the victims.

e) The treaty should provide for an international monitoring and accountability mechanism. A dedicated unit or centre within the United Nations may improve the international capacity for independent research and analysis and for monitoring the practices of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The needs and feasibility of a complementary international jurisdiction should be discussed.

f) The treaty should contain provisions requiring States to respect, protect and facilitate the work of human rights defenders and whistle-blowers. The right to access to information of public importance and relevant to cases of business-related abuse should be guaranteed.

We consider that during the sessions of the IGWG there should be a full discussion about addressing businesses operating within a single State.

The enhancement of the international human rights system in relation to TNCs and other business enterprises is urgent and needed. We call on civil society organizations, social movements, affected communities and the public to actively promote locally, nationally and internationally the public debate around this process and mobilize for this treaty.

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[From the web] Walking in Fear in the Philippines by Carlos Conde/HRW

Dispatches: Walking in Fear in the Philippines
Carlos Conde
May 6, 2015

In a country where extrajudicial executions by state security forces are a longstanding problem, potential victims take any threat seriously. So when farmers’ rights activist Eduardo Regidor noticed that three armed men were trailing him around Davao City last week, he sought refuge in the local offices of one of the Philippines’ largest human rights organizations, Karapatan. Regidor had recently filed a complaint with Karapatan against local elements of the military, so he had good reason to be fearful.

Carlos_Conde_web  2013 Byba Sepitkova Human Rights Watch

Regidor’s hunch proved right. The very next evening, one of those same three men tried to forcibly enter the Karapatan compound via the front gate, while the two others tried to scale the wall. They fled when police arrived on the scene. Regidor wasn’t harmed, but several staff and volunteers saw the attempted assault unfold. Among the witnesses were victims of military abuses in the area, including a woman allegedly raped by a soldier.

Karapatan has long been a target of the Philippine security forces. The military has often linked Karapatan and other nongovernmental groups holding decidedly left-wing political views with the rebel New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging an insurgency against the government since 1969. The conflict has sparked extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture; and many of the victims have been human rights defenders. Defending victims of human rights abuses by the Philippine security forces can have dire consequences – in several instances during the Benigno Aquino presidency, human rights defenders have been targets of violent attacks. In 2013 a senior military official described Karapatan as an “enemy” of the state, putting the group at particular risk.

The dangers for groups like Karapatan are especially great in areas that are strongholds of the NPA. This includes the eastern and southern Mindanao regions, where Davao City is located.

But there is little to keep security force personnel who commit abuses in check. Despite the arrest last year of the notorious retired army major general Jovito Palparan, who has been implicated in abduction, torture, and enforced disappearances, the Philippines government rarely prosecutes members of the security forces for serious human rights abuses.

The Philippine government needs to get serious about protecting human rights defenders, and investigating those who threaten or attack them. It could start by identifying and arresting the three men who attacked Karapatan’s offices last week. Until the government shows that it will no longer tolerate these grave threats, Eduardo Regidor and others who speak out will continue to walk the streets in fear.

Carlos Conde is the Philippines researcher at Human Rights Watch.

http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/05/06/dispatches-walking-fear-philippines

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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.

[Press Release] Civil society groups nominate staunch human rights advocates for CHR posts -PAHRA

Civil society groups nominate staunch human rights advocates for CHR posts

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

Civil society groups led by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) yesterday submitted to Malacanang a list of nominees for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) posts. The nominations were given to President Benigno S. Aquino III for his consideration without in anyway derogating from his privilege of appointment as Chief Executive.

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“May this participative action be taken as civil society’s high regard and serious concern for the institution, born out of the struggles for justice and human dignity during martial law years, ” according to Mr. Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA.

“As well as for the persons, who would compose and witness to the historical legacy of the Aquino administration,” de Mesa said.

The shortlist of nominees was an outcome of a broad and inclusive consultation which human rights defenders (HRDs) from civil society hope to help the President choose the most qualified for job.

CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales is scheduled to leave office in May 2015 together with the three Commissioners who have served a seven-year full term at the CHR. Chair Etta is just completing the unexpired term of Leila de Lima, who had been appointed Justice Secretary by President Aquino. While one Commissioner was already removed from her post by the Office of the Ombudsman over a graft case filed by her former subordinates, a case was filed against another Commissioner also with the Ombudsman.

In the letter submitted to President Aquino dated March 5, 2015, the civil society groups nominated former Quezon Province Representative ​Atty. Lorenzo Tanada III, former Regional Human Rights Commission of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Chairperson ​Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia, CHR GovLink Director Karen Dumpit, ​human rights and ​public interest lawyer, Atty. Marlon Manuel of the Alternative Law Groups, and International human rights lawyer, Atty. Cecil Jimenez.

“The shortlist of names of men and women we submitted to Malacanang is what we believe to be those personalities who exceptionally fit the criteria of independence, competence and integrity, the qualities that all CHR commissioners should possess,” de Mesa added.

It is the first time that civil society has systematically engaged in the nomination process for the CHR posts as it is viewed as highly a politicized process considering that the President, after all, ultimately makes the appointments.

But due to what they considered under-performance of the CHR and the alarming allegations of abuse of authority, graft practices and human rights abuses involving CHR officials, the HRDs were pushed to take active part in the selection process.

They see the search for the next CHR officials as a great opportunity for human rights to be put in the top of the list of the government agenda.

“The bleak performance of the Commission on Human Rights as a human rights watchdog in addressing different human rights issues in the country necessitates the need to have people in the Commission who have a genuine passion for human rights, and with the energy and the courage to ensure that human rights can be a reality for all.” de Mesa continued.

The nomination was backed by 28 human rights organizations and five private individuals who signed the endorsement letter.

They are also urging President Aquino to make human rights one of its lasting legacies by making CHR as an example of a prime human rights institution in the country, the ASEAN and the international community.

Contact Person:
Rose Trajano
Secretary General- PAHRA
Mobile No.​ 0906-553-1792​
Email add.​ pahra@philippinehumanrights.org​

March 5 2015
PRESS RELEASE

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[From the web] OHCHR welcomes arrest of Palparan

OHCHR welcomes arrest of Palparan

BANGKOK (13 August 2014) – We welcome the arrest by the Filipino Army of former maj. general Jovito Palparan, which represents an important step towards addressing impunity for serious human rights abuses in the Philippines.

OHCHR

Palparan was arrested this Tuesday after three years in-hiding. He was indicted in 2011 for ordering the torture, rape, and execution of two Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno in 2006. According to reliable sources, Palparan has also been linked to several human rights abuses, including disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings of leftist activists from 2001 to 2006.

In early 2007, after his official mission to the Philippines, the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions recommended that “as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the President must take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations.” We recognise the current efforts of the Aquino administration to follow-up on the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, and further encourage the Government to take additional steps to strengthen the rule of law and accountability mechanisms.

Ensuring justice in this case will set an important precedent for the Philippines and South East Asia region, where impunity remains an issue of serious concern.

ENDS
The Regional Office for South-East Asia in Bangkok represents the High Commissioner for Human Rights within South East Asia. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations and heads the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which spearheads the United Nations’ human rights efforts .

OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org
OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia website: http://bangkok.ohchr.org/

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[Press Release] Group challenges PNoy to side with victims of human rights abuses and environment destruction and not with the greedy few -SOS YB

Group challenges PNoy to side with victims of human rights abuses and environment destruction and not with the greedy few
Demands Government to prioritize the scrapping of Mining Act of 1995 and the legislation of AMMB as urgent in his SONA

 

Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina during SOS YB network picket at MGB as part of the Green March 2014. Photo by ATM

As part of the week-long pre-SONA campaign expressing their demands for President Benigno Aquino III (“Sa SONA: #DapatTaoMunaHindiMina! #DapatAMMBisabatasNA! Campaign) to Scrap the Mining Act of 1995, rights groups and anti-mining activists staged a pre-SONA creative picket protest in front of Mining Geo-Science Bureau (MGB) compound in North Avenue, Quezon City.

SOS-YB LOGO

Mimicking a “Placards dance” usually seen in Football games ceremony, the group performed their own to creatively deliver to the government and to the public their demands and to reiterate the state of the peoples’ rights and environment in mining affected communities.

File Photo by Rommel Yamzon/TFDP

File Photo by Rommel Yamzon/TFDP

“We strongly demand that the Aquino administration act decisively on the issues of human rights and environment destruction. We demand government’s respect, protection and fulfillment of our peoples’ rights and protection of our environment from corporate greed and impunity,” said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

“Inuuli-ulit po namin ang panawagan sa pamahalaan. Dapat kalikasan at tao ang inuuna hindi ang hungkag na kinikita ng pamahalaan at interes ng mga ganid sa tubo na mga korporasyon sa pagmimina,” Amistad lamented.

“Peoples’ lives and our environment are at stake here. Our Government must act according to its obligation. Mining has failed to deliver its promises of increased revenue and benefits to the community. What kind of government will tolerate these failures at the expense of peoples’ rights and environment,” said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).
According to reports the mining industry was only able to give the government 1% of the total GNP that led to the drafting of a mining revenue bill that will increase taxes from mining.

Garganera stressed that, “The Mining Act of 1995 or RA7942 is causing our environment and nation plunder, corruption and destruction that is equally unforgivable as DAP and PDAF. Worse like the DAP, what the government did is to recommend reforms that only prolong the much criticized ill-effects of this law to our peoples and environment. Instead of providing cure to rights violations and environmental destruction, the current mining law exacerbates the situation.”

He also said that, “We are very disappointed with government’s band-aid solutions that will not answer and provide remedy to victims of human rights abuses, natural resources exploitation and environmental degradation caused by mining that we have been reporting. We remind President Aquino that he must act for the rights and welfare of the majority of the Filipinos and not for the greedy few.”

Finally the group asked President Aquino,“How many more Glencore of Tampakan, Oceana Gold of Nueva Vizcaya, and others must our people endure before you heed and take the side of the indigenous peoples, women, farmers, and other sectors in the mining affected communities that you tagged as your Bosses?

“President Aquino, you must scrap the Mining Act of 1995 now. You must certify as urgent the Alternative Minerals Management Bill!” the group demanded. ###

Note:
The “Sa SONA: #DapatTaoMunaHindiMina! #DapatAMMBisabatasNA! Campaign is initiated by members of the SOS Yamang Bayan Network. SOS YB is a network of human rights groups, green activists, women, workers and faith-based pushing for the enactment of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).

The campaign is also part of the colorful pre-SONA action tagged as July 25 GREEN MARCH calling for the passage of the three green bills, the Alternative Mineral Management Bill, Forest Resources Bill and the National Land Use Act.

For more information please contact:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0917) 549.82.18 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 <checkzab@gmail.com>
Egay Cabalitan, TFDP Advocacy Staff, (0928) 844.37.17, <egay.advocacytfdp@gmail.com>

PRESS RELEASE
July 25, 2014

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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.

[Press Release] Green activists and rights groups launch campaign asking PNoy to prioritize peoples’ rights and environment over profit from mining

Green activists and rights groups launch campaign asking PNoy to prioritize peoples’ rights and environment over profit from mining

A week before President Benigno Aquino’s 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28, rights groups, environmental activists and advocates intensified their call for PNoy to act decisively on what according to them is the root cause of grave abuses on human rights and environment impacted on mining affected communities.

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They reiterated the need to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and certify as urgent the legislation of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).

The group is holding a nationwide appeal addressing President Aquino, through maximizing all forms of actions, including appeal letter sending, mass actions and social networking site.  They are initiating a simultaneous and nationwide campaign which they dubbed as “Sa SONA: Dapat Tao Muna Hindi Mina! Dapat AMMB Ipasa NA!” a week before the SONA.

“Not acting on this law is a clear violation of human rights. It is submitting the peoples’ rights and welfare to corporate greed and thus promoting corporate impunity,” Jaybee Garganera, head of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said pertaining to the Mining Act of 1995,.

“We have recorded numerous human rights abuses perpetrated by Mining Companies and human rights violations by some government personnel but the government remains numb and we received no decisive actions to address them,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) lamented.

“The bill to increase revenue from mining that was proposed and crafted by the MICC and that was submitted to the Office of the Presidents is not enough,” Garganera added.

“Although we welcome this proposal as a development, we see it as treating issues on mining as mere income and profit concerns and neglecting the issues of rights and environment,” he added.

The group explained that, “what our country needs is a law that would benefit us as a nation in a holistic manner – rights- based , environment friendly – and not in a profiteering, greed driven and destructive way. Facing the problems in piece meal legislations will not answer and justify the destruction that the said law has caused the environment.”

“It has been exposed many times, that the Mining Act of 1995 is a law that mainly prioritizes profit for the few over the rights and welfare of the many and at the expense of our environment.  It has been proven to worsen the life of the people in the affected communities over claims and promises of progress and development,” Said Amistad.
In the middle of plunder, graft and corruption controversies in the government, the group cited that on the issue of mining, there are also alleged practices of corruption that concerned government agencies  are allegedly  involved in.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who is facing charges on PDAF Scam is also the head of a political dynasty in Cagayan which has condoned and abetted the proliferation of black sand mining in the province despite repeated raids and arrests of miners with no proper permits.

“There are only two years left for President Aquino to once and for all heed the call for the scrapping of this law that causes not only too much suffering on our people but also destruction to our environment, PNoy must act now!” Amistad concluded.

PRESS RELEASE
July 19, 2014

For more information pls contact:
Egay Cabalitan, TFDP Advocacy Staff, 09288443717, egay.advocacytfdp@gmail.com
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 checkzab@gmail.com

Sa SONA: Dapat Tao Muna Hindi Mina! Dapat AMMB Ipasa NA!
WEBSITE http://taomunahindimina.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/sa-sona-dapat-tao-muna-hindi-mina-dapat-ammb-isabatas-na/
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/TaoMunaHindiMina
TWITTER @TaoMunaDiMina

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

[Press Release] CSOs celebrate HR resolution of UNHRC, urges the PH government to follow through -ATM

CSOs celebrate HR resolution of UNHRC, urges the PH government to follow through
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Human rights (HR) groups and other organizations are celebrating as the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva voted on a resolution to initiate the process to create an international legally binding instrument that will hold transnational corporations (TNCs) accountable to corporate human rights abuses on June 26.

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Rene Pamplona and Fr. Joy Pelino both representatives of the Social Action Center of Marbel Diocese a member organization of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) attended the UNHRC meeting in Geneva as representatives of the Philippines.

In a two minute presentation, Pamplona presented to the UNHRC the case of Glencore/Xstrata – a Swiss Transnational Corporation – and its alleged human rights abuses to the people of Bla’an in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Presently, Glencore is being accused of committing human rights abuses to four (4) – Peru, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia – other countries aside from the Philippines.

47 member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council convened to vote on the initiation of the controversial international binding treaty highly opposed by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Japan.

The result came down to a YES after 20 voted in favour, 14 against and 13 abstentions.

“This is really a historic moment for all of us,” said Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator.

“The approval of an initiation of an international instrument to hold TNCs accountable to their HR abuses is beneficial to every worker and victims of corporate abuses all around the globe.” He added.

In the Philippines, the lobbying team for the passage of the initiation of the legally binding treaty is the Tampakan Forum to which ATM and SAC Marbel are members.

ATM, Kalikasan at Tao Muna Hindi Mina and other environmental and human rights organizations held a rally in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs office last June 24 in solidarity with the global campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity.

This was after reports came out claiming that the Philippine Mission in Geneva, Headed by Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, kept mum on the issue during the whole process of deliberation. In the final result, the Philippines was one of the countries that voted YES in the meeting.

“It was a long and hard journey to get the missions vote on a YES for the initiation of the binding treaty, however the bigger battle is just about to begin.” Said Rose Trajano, Secretary General of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).

Trajano came with Pamplona and Pelino in Geneva and also helped in the lobbying to stop TNC impunity. PAHRA, the organization Trajano belongs is also a member of the Tampakan Forum.

Despite the victory, HR groups and other organizations involve in the global campaign remain wary as to where the initiative may lead to. In a statement, Pamplona urged the supporters of the binding treaty and the general public to be alert and not to get too complacent with the turn of events.

“There are still thousands of victims that are fighting for justice against the human rights abuses TNCs have done to them. Here in the Philippines alone, Glencore Xstrata and the members of Task force KITACO that are main suspects for the killings of Bla’an tribe members remain at large.

“Yes the initiative to build a binding treaty has begun, but we have to be vigilant and alert on what’s going to happen next, because as passionate as we are in concertizing justice when it comes to human rights abuses, those against it are probably as dedicated to block it just the same.” Pamplona said.

According to a press release by the global campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, “United Nations’ present Business and human rights regime, which relies on voluntary guidelines rather than legal obligations, is woefully inadequate to deal with ongoing corporate violations.”

“Voluntary Guidelines” refers to corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that almost all TNCs and even some local companies do to fulfill social obligations.

“There is nothing wrong with CSRs,” Trajano clarified “but this should not be a reason why TNCs should have impunity on abuses they have committed.”

A passage of an international binding treaty championing corporate human rights and holding TNCs accountable to corporate human rights abuses has been seen by Human Rights groups as a revolutionary milestone in the realm of business and human rights.

To date, the global and local campaign for a legally binding instruments continue, this time to ensure that the initiative will follow through and for the Philippines’ “Yes” vote to be translated into a productive and constructive participation in the drafting of the International Binding Treaty.

“We are calling on the Philippine Government especially the Department of Foreign Affairs to actively participate in the drafting of the binding treaty in the UNHRC. May our country be a part of upholding corporate human rights that will benefit this generation and the next.” Garganera concluded.

###

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB.

Tampakan Forum, a working group on the Tampakan mining issue composed of legal, social, economic, technical experts and organizations opposing mining in the country

For more information:

Rene Pamplona, Campaign and Advocacy Officer, SAC Marbel (0918) 380.99.23 <renepamplona@yahoo.com.ph>
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0917) 549.82.18 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 <checkzab@gmail.com>

ATM Press Release
14 July 2014

[Press Release] CSOs urge PH government to push for HR binding treaty in Geneva -ATM

CSOs urge PH government to push for HR binding treaty in Geneva

Photo by ATM

Activists staged a protest in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office on June 24 to urge the Philippine government to support the push for a binding treaty on human rights and transnational corporations.

In solidarity with the Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity mobilization in Geneva, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) with many other civil society organizations suited up and posed as corporate executives to mockingly represent the transnational corporations (TNCs).

According to Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator, the mobilization “signifies the CSOs demands for the Philippine government to support the binding treaty that will establish a mechanism to hold corporations accountable for their impunities.”

The proposed binding treaty aims to construct an international instrument that can enforce the implementation of corporate human rights and corporate accountability of TNCs.

Photo by Focus on the Global South

Photo by Focus on the Global South

“Our government needs to prioritize the protection of human rights against corporate impunity as the situation is getting worse here in our country.” Said Garganera.

He added, “A case to transcend the global problem in our national setting is the human rights (HR) abuses of Glencore/Xstrata against the indigenous people (IP) of Bla’an in Tampakan.

“Had there been a legally binding treaty holding transnational corporations accountable for their actions, anti-mining advocates like Juvy Capion, his two sons, and other Bla’an leaders and members would not have lost their lives.” stressed Garganera.

Currently, Fr. Joy Pelino and Rene Pamplona from Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel (SAC MARBEL) are in Geneva to represent the Philippines in the UNHRC council meeting and in the global action against corporate impunity and to expose the HR abuses of Glencore in Tampakan.

Photo by Focus on the Global South-ATM

Photo by Focus on the Global South-ATM

In a statement, Fr. Pelino said that Glencore “has desecrated people’s freedom, dignity and identity.” And thus “should be stopped” with their “monstrosity.”

Pelino also urged “the people of goodwill to stand with those who are already marginalized and further excluded by the TNCs.”

Presently, Glencore is on trial for allegedly committing human rights abuses to four (4) – Peru, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia – other countries aside from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Philippine mission in Geneva attending to the UNHRC meeting keeps mum on the stand of the Philippine government on the alleged abuses by Glencore in Tampakan and the binding treaty being deliberated.

In a closing statement, Garganera called on the Philippine government especially on the DFA to “make the voices of the marginalized be heard.” He also urged the gov’t  to “protect its people from corporate abuses by speaking up and giving a clear stand against corporate impunity.”

For more information:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0917) 549.82.18  <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>

Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 <checkzab@gmail.com>

 

[Press Release] Corporate giants go on trial for human rights abuses in Geneva

Corporate giants go on trial for human rights abuses in Geneva
Tribunal hears cases of corporate violations highlighting the need for a global treaty

June 23, 2014, Geneva (Switzerland) – Eight transnational corporations, including Shell, Chevron and Glencore, go on trial today in Geneva for human rights abuses committed around the world.

stopcorporateimpunitydotorg

The cases will be heard in a special session of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal organised by the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power & Stop Impunity at the Maison des Associations between 9 am and 6 pm. Monica Vargas from ODG-Debtwatch in Barcelona, a main organizer of tribunal, stated that “The testimony that we will hear today prove that a binding treaty is sorely needed in order to provide victims of corporate crimes access to justice.”

The Tribunal will examine cases that confirm that the United Nations’ present Business and human rights egime, which relies on voluntary guidelines rather than legal obligations, is woefully inadequate to deal with ongoing corporate violations. The voluntary approach has merely continued the systemic denial of access to justice for the victims of corporate abuses.

Victims of the decades-long oil pollution caused by Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon and of
Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria will present their cases that illustrate the long-standing impunity by big oil companies.

The mining industry will also be on trial through the troubling cases of Swiss mining giant Glencore in the Philippines, Peru, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. Cases will also be presented involving the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim in El Salvador and of United Kingdom based Lonmin in South Africa.Other cases will discuss how human rights have been
systematically violated by the Coca-Cola Company in Colombia; by Israel’s water services company
Mekorot in Palestine; and by the Spanish Hydro dam company’s operations in Hidralia in
Guatemala.

The Tribunal’s jury, composed of a panel of experts including international lawyers, members of parliament and prominent academics, will hear the testimony of victims’ representatives and present a conclusion about the operations of the accused corporations according to existing international human rights instruments and the fundamental need of access to justice.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal will take place in parallel with the 26th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where Ecuador has led an initiative by over 80 member countries seeking to start the process for developing a binding treaty to punish TNCs for their violations. The proposal is being staunchly resisted by the EU, US, Japan and others that are the host nations for the large majority of transnational corporations.

”It is disturbing that governments in the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and the United States are more concerned with defending the interests of their corporations than the human rights of peoples,” said Brid Brennan from the Transnational Institute and the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power.

Fr. Joy Pelino from the Filipino movement opposing Glencore/Xstrata’s (GX) activities in the Philippines stated that the “company has committed numerous human rights abuses including the killing of Bla’an leaders and some members of their family who oppose mining activities in the area, and has desecrated people’s freedom, dignity and identity.” Pelino asserted that “GX’s monstrosity should be stopped and justice needs to be served now.”

The Geneva Peoples Permanent Tribunal provides an opportunity to the victims of corporate violations to publicly present their struggle and to demand the justice that they have never achieved. More generally, it aims to provide a truthful and authoritative account of the operations of TNCs and their repercussions on human rights. Through these testimonies an international audience will recognise the urgent need for a binding international legal instrument that can enforce human rights obligations for transnational corporations.

The judges for the session include the Law professor and researcher Juan Hernandez Zubizarreta, from Hegoa Institute, Basque Country; Francesco Martone, jurist and Senator in the Italian Parliament; Roberto Schiattarella, professor of Economics and vice-president of the Lelio Basso Foundation; and Jean Ziegler, former Sociology professor, former member of the Swiss Parliament, and former UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food.

About the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power:
Launched in June 2012, the Campaign was established to facilitate a cooperative movement of solidarity between existing local, national and global movements and networks in order to increase the visibility of resistances to transnational corporations (TNCs) violations around the world. For more information and to see a list of participants and signatories please see: http://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org/

About the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal:
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal was established on June 24, 1979 by Lelio Basso, lawyer, Senator, and writer, one of the “fathers” of the Italian Constitution. It is a so-called ‘opinion tribunal’, inspired by the experience of the Russell tribunals on Vietnam (1966-1967) and Latin America dictatorships (1974-1976). It bases its activity on the 1976 Algiers Declaration on the Right of Peoples. The PPT raises public awareness of legal shortcomings affecting the marginalised communities and peoples non-recognised as subjects of rights, in order to provide voiceless victims with a stand of visibility and a possibility of claim, recognition and remedy of their rights.

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For more information please contact:

Egay Cabalitan, Jr., Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) Advocay Staff, (0928)844.37.17 <egay.advocaytfdp@gmail.com>
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 <checkzab@gmail.com>

Press release
23 June 2014

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[From the web] ASEAN MPs call for immediate halt to arbitrary detentions and human rights violations by Thailand’s ruling military junta -ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

ASEAN MPs call for immediate halt to arbitrary detentions and human rights violations by Thailand’s ruling military junta

Parliamentarians from across ASEAN today slammed Thailand’s military rulers, accusing them of widespread human rights abuses and calling for the immediate release of all persons detained for political reasons and for the ruling junta to respect basic human rights.

APHR

“Thailand’s military has set about purging all political opponents, and has been responsible for a swathe of human rights abuses since seizing power in a military coup. These abuses must be reversed immediately and permanently,” said APHR President Eva Kusuma Sundari.

Hundreds of people have been arbitrarily detained by the Thai military in less than a week, the media placed under heavy censorship and intimidation, and basic rights including freedom of assembly curtailed.

“We have witnessed one of the most shocking and rapid deteriorations in the human rights situation in any country in our region in a long time; one that demands an immediate and concerted response from all concerned parties,” said Ms. Sundari.

Thailand’s political crisis cannot be remedied by the persecution of people on basis of political affiliation or ideology, APHR said. APHR takes no stand on the country’s deep political divisions but asserts that such a heavy-handed and draconian response is illegal, unwarranted and deeply flawed: it will only worsen the situation, not remedy it.

APHR is extremely concerned by the arbitrary detentions and intimidation of hundreds of politicians, activists, academics and ordinary citizens that has seen hundreds of people summonsed to report to the military under threat of imprisonment and fines. Many of those that have reported have been taken away to unknown locations and held incommunicado and without charge. Others have fled the country.

“What we are witnessing here appears to be a wholesale purge of a political class and the beginning of a witch-hunt against anyone who opposes the military’s seizure of power or their vision for the future of the country,” warned Walden Bello, Philippines Congressman and APHR Vice President.

Bello urged an immediate return to civilian and democratic rule, saying that the coup in Thailand threatens the momentum towards democracy in ASEAN and poses a threat to the consolidation of democratic rule in those countries that have embraced democracy.

The military has also announced it will try all cases linked to crimes against the monarchy or deemed to be related to national security under Military Court, which does not permit civilian defendants to nominate their own legal representation.

APHR is concerned that the military appears set on continuing with its ruthless purge of all dissent against its rule, and that Thailand could soon be home to hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

APHR called on the ruling military administration to immediately make available a list of all persons detained under martial law, there whereabouts and reasons for their detention. Anyone being detained must be given access to family members, lawyers and be charged under civilian courts with a recognizable crime or immediately released.

“There is a dark future ahead for Thailand if it becomes one where words and ideas are enough to have you locked away by a military court. We implore all Thai parliamentarians, regardless of party-affiliation, to recognize this threat and speak out against these most serious threats to basic freedoms,” he added.

“For Thailand to move forward it needs to embark on an inclusive and open national debate that takes into account a wide range of ideas and ideologies. This cannot happen under the current climate,” added Mr. Bello.

APHR is concerned that detainees are being held incommunicado in non-official detention centers, raising the risk of torture and other abuses. There is particular concern regarding at least 30 individuals that have been detained for alleged involvement in past or previous politically-motivated attacks.

APHR recognizes that impunity for political violence has been a major driving factor in the deterioration of Thailand’s political crisis and urges the authorities to follow up on investigation and prosecution for all politically motivated crimes over recent months and years.

However, APHR is concerned that the military is not following due process and that the arbitrary detention of such suspects in non-official detention centers – with no access to lawyers or relatives – raises the risk of torture. APHR calls on the military authorities to charge any suspects with recognizable crimes and permit them a fair trial in a civilian court.

Under martial law the military has powers to detain persons for up to seven days without charge or warrant, and is not liable to provide compensation to those affected by actions of personnel enforcing military law. This is not in line with international human rights standards.

APHR is concerned that the authorities are cracking down on peaceful dissent, including by instructing media not to air material critical of the military’s actions or to interview persons who may criticize the military or the current political situation.

“It is truly a worrying situation in Thailand. We are seeing academics and intellectuals fleeing the country in fear of persecution, ordinary citizens arrested, and armed soldiers raiding houses in the middle of the night,” said Charles Santiago, Malaysian MP and APHR Member.

“We are compelled to speak out at this time. There is no justification, security or otherwise, for such abuses on such a wide scale. The military junta must desist from these acts immediately or face international and regional condemnation and repercussions.”

While many Thais may be in favor of the military putsch, and view it as a means to bringing temporary stability to a fractious country, the military leadership has a duty and responsibility to protect and preserve the rights of all citizens of Thailand, not just those that don’t disagree with them, APHR said.

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) is a collective of lawmakers from Southeast Asia working to improve human rights responses and social justice in the region.

http://www.aseanmp.org

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[Press Release] Martial Law Victims of Human Rights Abuses may file claims starting May 12

PRESS RELEASE, April 27, 2014
Martial Law Victims of Human Rights Abuses may file claims starting May 12

The Human Rights Violations Victims Claims Board (HRVVCB) has approved on Thursday, April 24, 2016 the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for RA 10368 also known as Martial Law Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

The Philippine government through RA 10368 declared that “consistent with the policy of the State to recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims” of human rights violations during martial law and “restore the victims’ honor and dignity, (T)he State hereby acknowledges its moral and legal obligation to recognize and/or provide reparation to said victims and/or their families for the deaths, injuries, sufferings, deprivations and damages they suffered under the Marcos regime.”

“ Those who were killed, enforced disappeared, tortured, illegally detained,  deprived of livelihood and properties by agents of the state and those acting in their behalf during martial law will be recognized and given reparations by the human Rights Violations Victims’ Claims Board  (HRVVCB). Applications for claims starts May 12, 2014, when the IRR will be effective,” said Chairperson of the HRVVCB Lina Sarmiento.

The IRR states that it “shall be liberally construed to promote the intent, purposes and objectives of the Human Rights VictimsReparation and Recognition Act of 2013…  Any doubt in the implementation and interpretation hereof shall be resolved in favor of facilitating the reparation and recognition of bona fide human rights violations victims or their legal heirs.”

“ Following the guidelines laid down by the law, we have approved an IRR that ensures transparency and a speedy and expeditious procedure that also allows opposition to fraudulent, fictitious or spurious applications,” said the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Claims Board (HRVVCB)

The IRR for RA 10368 (entitled “An Act Providing for Reparations and Recognition of Victims of Human Rights Violations During Marcos Regime,

Documentation of Said Violations, Appropriating Funds Therefor and For Other Purposes” will be published in two newspapers on April 27, 2014 and will become effective on May 12, 2014. The Claims Board has already set the dates for application of claims as May 12, 2014 – November 10, 2014. Failure to submit applications during the period will be a waiver of claims to recognition or reparations.

“ All victims of human rights violations during martial law, or their legal heirs and authorized representatives in cases of those killed, disappeared and incapacitated, must submit personally their applications and supporting documents for recognition and reparations to the Claims Board.

These includes those with conclusive presumption such as those who won in the Hawaii Court class suit and those recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani,” said the Claims Board.

The Claims Board may take judicial notice motu proprio of individual persons who suffered human rights violations during martial law and grant such persons recognition as victims and their names will be enshrined in the Roll of Human Rights Violations Victims.

The IRR states that the determination of award of monetary reparation “shall be based on the type of human rights abuse committed against the victim, frequency and duration of the violations and severity of harm and consequences. In each category, the HRVVs who have suffered more would receive more points. In instances where a victim is classified in more than one category, s/he shall be awarded the points in the higher category.”

Applications for recognition as victims of human rights abuses during martial law from August 22, 1972 – March 25, 1986 may be submitted starting May 12, 2014 on Mondays to Fridays during office hours at the Claims Board office at UP ISSI, Virata Hall, Emilio Jacinto Street, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

“ In the spirit of reaching out to all victims of martial law abuses and to ensure better access to us, we will be announcing other places for acceptance of applications in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. “ said Sarmiento.

The IRR also states that, “A Memorial/Museum/Library shall be established in honor and in memory of the victims of human rights violations, whose names are inscribed in the Roll of Human Rights Violations Victims prepared by the Board… The database prepared by the Board derived from the processing of claims shall be turned over to the Memorial Commission for archival purposes, and made accessible for the promotion of human rights to all government agencies and instrumentalities in order to prevent recurrence of similar abuses, encourage continuingreforms and contribute to ending impunity.” The Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights Loretta Ann Rosales heads the Board of Trustees of the Memorial Commission.

“We thank all those individuals, groups and government agencies who gave their inputs and comments into the IRR. We hope that we will receive continuing assistance from these groups to ensure that we reach out to all the victims of martial law abuses and give due recognition and reparations to them. “ Concluded Claims Board Chair Sarmiento.

The HRVVCB conducted 9 consultations from April 3-21, 2014 in the National Capital Region, La Union, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, WesternVisayas and in Mindanao. Victims and survivors were consulted as well as other stakeholders like human rights organizations and government agencies.

Pursuant to RA 10368, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed the Chair and members of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Claims Board on February 13, 2014.

The source of funds for the reparation of HRVVs and implementation of the Act shall be the amount of ten billion pesos (P10,000,000,000.00) plus the accrued interest, which form part of the funds transferred to the government of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of the December 10, 1997 Order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, adjudged by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as final and executory in Republic vs. Sandiganbayan on July 15, 2003 (G.R. No. 152154) as Marcos ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the Republic of the Philippines.

The operating budget of the Board, as provided in the law, shall not exceed fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) a year comes from the ten billion peso (P10,000,000,000.00) fund while the the Memorial/Museum/Library/Compendium shall have an appropriation of at least five hundred million pesos (P500,000,000.00) from the accrued interest of the ten billion peso (P10,000,000,000.00) fund.

Lina Castillo Sarmiento
Chairperson
Human Rights Violations Victims Claims Board

___________

Brief on the HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS VICTIMS’ CLAIMS BOARD
Chair: Lina Castillo Sarmiento
Members:
Wilfred Asis
GaluaschBallaho
Byron D. Bocar
Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Glenda Litong
Jacqueline Veloria Mejia
Aurora Corazon AlvaredaParong
ErlindaNableSenturias
The Chair of the Board, Lina Castillo Sarmiento, is experienced in forensic investigations, police community relations and implemented reforms as head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office. Jose Luis Martin Gascon was a Constitutional Convention delegate which framed the 1987 Philippine Constitution which integrates human rights and social justice, taking off from lessons during martial law.

Three have worked with the Commission on Human Rights – Jacqueline Veloria Mejia worked as Executive Director of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 27 years and takes with her extensive managerial experience. Byron Bocar, a lawyer who was forced to seek refuge in the Netherlands worked at the CHR and in Congress. Galuasch Ballaho, a Muslim lawyer from Mindanao worked with the newly established Regional Commission on Human Rights in the ARMM.

Aurora Corazon Alvareda Parong and Erlinda Nable Senturias are medical doctors who both worked with the Medical Action Group and have a track record of 3 decades of work on health and human rights. They visited jails and evacuation centers and rendered services to victims of torture, families of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and internal displacement during martial law. Senturias also worked with the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform while Parong worked as a leader of Amnesty International and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS VICTIMS’ CLAIMS BOARD (HRVVCB)
c/o Institute of Small Scale Industries (ISSI) Building,
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
email: hrvictimsclaimsboard@gmail.com
cellphone: 0999-5059737

 

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[Press Release] PAHRA: CHR Commissioners as defenders or violators of human rights?

Human rights group: CHR Commissioners as defenders or violators of human rights?

PAHRA in a presscon CHR Commissioners as defenders or violators of human rights

A human rights group demanded in a press conference on September 26,2013 that alleged acts and practices of corruption of the two Commissioners of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) be investigated promptly and effectively by an independent committee.

pahra logo copy

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), along with 20 other civil society organizations, in November 2012, has made an evaluation of the CHRP’s performance among others. In its report submitted to President Benigno Aquino III, it cited among others the CHRP’s fragmented leadership with below-par performance. CSO Assessment and Dialogue with CHR Nov & Dec 2012 for pax (2)

Recent actions of alleged human rights abuses committed by CHR Commissioners Norberto de la Cruz and Cecilia Raquel Quisumbing had surfaced from their former staff. Cited, among others, were using violence against a driver, ill-treatment of the staff and cases of corruption, such as turning CHRP drivers into family drivers and tolerating minimal presence in their job but collecting full salaries.

Ms. Regina Eugenio, a former staff of Commissioner Quisumbing, said she and her co-staff experienced ill-treatment from Commissioner Quisumbing. “Hindi na naming masikmura ang pagyurak sa aming dignidad at pagkatao,” (We could no longer stand the trampling on our dignity and humanity.) Ms Eugenio explained as the reason for their resignation. The said staff no longer wanted to be treated like “robots”. Ms. Eugenio and her co-staff’s resignations were stopped and were instead unjustly fired by Commissioner Quisumbing.

“Makakatanggap pa sila ng retirement pension mula sa gobyerno sa kabila ng kanilang paglabag sa karapatang pantao!” expressed by Mr. Nemesio Mendoza, former staff and driver of Commissioner Norberto de la Cruz.

“The present situation is unacceptable,” said Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA, “and must not be tolerated any further.”

After receiving un-substantive responses from the Commissioners themselves when the evaluation and these incidents have been discreetly but formally conveyed, PAHRA had written the President, who is the appointing authority for the Commissioners of the CHRP.

It must be called to mind that in two years time, Pres. Aquino has to appoint a new set of CHRP Commissioners.

PAHRA’s National Executive Committee (NEC), in its letter, has called on the President, as Chief Executive and Appointing Authority that to ensure the irreversible shift of his administration to a paradigm of human rights:

  • To designate an independent committee of inquiry regarding these incidents, as well as their causes, and to recommend measures and actions that would strengthen the CHR;
  • To take persuasive action on the two Commissioners so that they would take a leave of absence so as to obtain an environment of openness free of possible harassment and intimidation during the time of inquiry;
  • To certify as urgent the passage of the new Charter of the CHR with the added provisions on the selection process of the Commissioners and the Mechanism for Transparency and Accountability of the Commissioners and Directors;
  • To create a committee that would propose a process of selection for the next new members of the CHR similar to the selection of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

De Mesa emphasized that “this critique is not to destroy the CHRP but rather to strengthen it as a primary institution of women and men who are suppose to be guides and guardians of human rights.” “And ensuring the State’s obligations on human rights are fulfilled,” he concluded.

Other related documents:

letter to Pres. B. Aquino on CHR

LETTER ON ERODED INTEGRITY OF CHR

Press release
26 September 2013

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[Press Release] EU urged to pass law ensuring HR compliance of European firms’ supply chain -CTUHR

EU urged to pass law ensuring HR compliance of European firms’ supply chain

NGOs say new legislation can aid in ending “natural resource trade fueling conflict”

CTUHR logo

A group of 58 non-government organizations from different parts of the world urged the European Commission to pass a “strong and effective” legislation that will “prevent European businesses [from] fueling conflict and human rights abuses through their purchases of natural resources” which include gold, tin, diamonds among others.

In a joint position paper, Breaking the links between natural resources and conflict: The case forEU regulation published on September 16, the group of civil society organizations laid down key factors that an EU regulation should have in order to ensure that businesses operating within EU’s jurisdiction, targeting mainly European firms’ supply chain, “are not causing or contributing to human rights abuses, directly or indirectly.”

Trade in natural resources mainly minerals and precious stones, according to the group, “has played a central role in funding and fuelling some of the world’s most brutal conflicts” that continue to impact on the daily lives of people in resource rich countries namely Congo, Colombia, Burma, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic, “where violence is a major obstacle to development.”

As the Commission is expected to publish draft legislation by the end of 2013, the group of NGOs called on the EU to not miss the opportunity to “require EU-based companies to carry out supply chain checks that meet international due diligence standards developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”

The group underlined that the EU, being the world’s largest trading bloc, is in a good position “to influence global supply chains and promote transparent and responsible sourcing in other jurisdictions.” They argued that doing due diligence will also benefit European businesses by ensuring that companies are not funding wars and will allow trade to continue but not at the expense of gross human rights violations.

The group recommends that the Commission’s draft legislation:

· Applies to all natural resources originating in any conflict-affected and high-risk area;

· Is based on relevant international instruments, including the International Bill of Human Rights, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas;

· Takes a risk-based approach that considers impacts on individuals and communities;

· Complements existing EU initiatives and legislation to promote transparency and sustainable development and forms part of a comprehensive approach to prevent environmental destruction, reinforce governance and encourage security sector and mining reform in natural resource-rich developing countries.

Among the Philippine NGOs that are signatories to the position paper are Center for Trade Union and Human Rights and Workers Assistance Center. To view full position paper and for a complete list of signatories go here.

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[In the news] Teddy Casino to Palace: Human rights violations are Leftist propaganda? ‘Mahiya ka naman sa mga biktima’ -InterAksyon.com

Teddy Casino to Palace: Human rights violations are Leftist propaganda? ‘Mahiya ka naman sa mga biktima
By InterAksyon.com
October 24, 2012

MANILA, PhilippinesBayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño on Wednesday blasted Malacanang for what he said was its dismissal of the continuing human rights abuses in the country as Leftist propaganda.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, taking on the cudgels for the President in a brewing word war with Casiño, on Wednesday said the congressman shouldn’t take “personally” President Aquino’s earlier statements dismissing “Leftist propaganda” and Casiño’s low ranking in senatorial surveys.

Casiño on Tuesday had reacted to Aquino’s remarks with a cutting statement on how the President himself was “not considered presidential calibre” until his mother, the late revered former President Cory Aquino, died in 2009, and himself ranked lowly in polls.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

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[In the news] Impunity in human rights abuses persists under Aquino gov’t—US report -INQUIRER.net

Impunity in human rights abuses persists under Aquino gov’t—US report.

By Jerry E. Esplanada, Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 27, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Impunity in the area of human rights violations persists under the Aquino administration, according to the US Department of State.

In a report posted on the website of the US Embassy in Manila, the State Department said the Aquino administration faced more than 20 cases of major human-rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, but investigated and prosecuted only a few of those cases.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her department’s human rights reports “chronicle the stories defending human rights in almost 200 countries around the world,” including the Philippines.

Read full article @ globalnation.inquirer.net

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[From the web] Filipinos Reject Mega Project in Pristine Area –

Filipinos Reject Mega Project in Pristine Area
by Madonna T. Virola
February 25, 2012

The remote province of Aurora is a promising tourism destination in the Philippines – blessed with natural attractions and historical sights.

But activists and locals are worried about its future given the government’s plans to build the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone or APECO, in the area.

Expected to be a major hub in the Pacific region, it’s also home to thousands of farmers, fisher folks and indigenous people.

Several protests demanding the project be halted have been staged.

And recent investigations by the anti-APECO international mission have revealed early signs of human rights violations in the project area, located in the isolated municipality of Casiguran.

Madonna Virola joins the investigation team to take a look.

I’ve joined an anti-APECO mission travelling to the remote province of Aurora.

The team consists of local Filipinos along with Dutch and Swiss religious leaders that support the cause.

We left the capital Manila 8 hours ago and have driven through the beautiful scenery around Sierra Madre Mountain.

As we get closer to the coastal town of Casiguran, we are greeted by vast agricultural lands, fishing grounds and the Pacific Ocean’s pristine beaches.

This is also the designated site for the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone, or APECO.

Mark Cebreros from the Human Rights Commission says the project has already raised concern over alleged human rights abuses.

“We saw apparent signs of displacement of communities affected by the APECO project. We saw infrastructure projects, buildings, an airstrip, fences being constructed as well as bank houses, on land that are alleged to have been taken from residents without just compensation or allegations of forcible eviction and harassment. We also saw indigenous peoples communities of Dumagats of Ildelfonso complaining of harassment, of attempts to grab their lands and dispose them of their traditional areas; we’re able to meet with informal settler families, who, while they do not possess title to the land had been there 50 to 60 years and whose right of possession are being taken from them without meaningful consultations, without the opportunity for them to put up viable alternatives to ensure their livelihood.”

Thousands of indigenous people, farmers and fishermen have railed against the APECO project.

This 12-thousand-hectare economic zone will be a manufacturing and industrial complex located in front of the Pacific Ocean – a real threat to the livelihood of Aurora’s current residents.

Villagers will have limited access to their rich fishing and farming grounds.

The local church has organized international and local support against the project.

Father Jose Francisco Talaban is from the local church.

“We’re doing an International Solidarity Mission because we believe that through the solidarity of the many people who are very sympathetic to rights of the farmers, the fisher folks, the indigenous people, we can make this advocacy really brought into the different countries and will help us to tell that there are people here in Casiguran, Aurora asking for help. By your help, the people will be encouraged especially the victims of the Aurora Pacific economic zone, to stand for their rights.”

During the mission visit, people affected by the project stand up and raise their voices on the stage.

Victor Abahon is a member of the indigenous group Agta.

“They say they offer development. But they don’t consult us. It’s only for those who support them. We also like development but when they put up buildings in our island, how can we work there? They are taking our fishing grounds, our source of livelihood.”
The campaign’s tagline is: “It’s more fun in Aurora without APECO” – a twist on the Philippines’ new tourism slogan.

But it’s far from fun for Father Jose Fransisco Talaban, whose convent room wall was bombed by alleged supporters of the APECO project.

“It was 2 o’clock in the morning, I was sleeping when the bombing incident happened, on the wall of my room, I heard a heavy, big explosion, followed by three gunshots. We searched but the culprits had escaped. We thought that it’s just an ordinary thing that I heard, but at 5 o‘clock when I woke up, in the pathway near my room, I saw 5 laminated materials, in that, they accused me as communist, the son of the demon. There were petitions and they asked the bishop that I have to be replaced here, it was orchestrated by barangay officials here.”

In Manila, APECO president Robbie Mathay defends the project saying it is for a greater good.

“There are so many beaches, and the natural beauty of that place, it’s hard to imagine nobody put up hotels, would need staff. Investments in community has sort of multiplier effect. Maybe eco-trekking, here’s a lot of mountain trail, waterfalls. Initially, we’re seeing domestic tourism. I expect in 3 years time period, we’ll be attracting the mainstream international tourists from the region like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea. Maybe within the next year, backpackers, we’ll be welcoming them.”

The government has allocated 7 million US dollars from this year’s budget and the first phase – a 3-star hotel and administration building – is already underway.

The bill that created the Aurora Special Economic Zone or ASEZA was signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 2007 and began operation a year later.

Two years later, the law was amended and renamed the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone, or APECO, and was granted a much larger area.

Despite ongoing protests, Aurora Governor Bella Angara-Castillo says the majority of the population support the project.

“We will submit recommendations for Congress to at least review or if possible repeal law the creating APCEO.”

Mark Cebreros from the Human Rights Commission is speaking to the media about human rights violations in connection to APECO.

“We’re also going to conduct further ground investigation, we’re recommending that the Commission send several investigators to the field to take depositions from the affected residents, and finally, we’re recommending for the conduct of a public inquiry for all stakeholders, even the proponents, so there will be an opportunity for all of them to meaningfully dialogue and attempt to come out with a just and equitable solution.”

APECO’s president Robbie Mathay says he is ready to start a dialogue with the residents.

“Maybe their perception of what APECO can do is probably ill-advised by certain parties. We’re being accused that we’re land grabbing, that we’re violating human rights. We’re very business- like in the way we conduct our business, we’re open and transparent, and we try to involve all stakeholders in the community. It’s a really big area, so maybe when we conduct our dialogue, (which) we have to do per barangay (village); not all of them area there at once, and not all questions are addressed in general assembly, in think there’s still some confusion of what APECO is going to be.”

Groups opposed to the project have filed a case to repeal the law.

Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, a member of the anti-APECO movement, tells locals not to lose hope.

“At the end, the truth will come out.”

Source: www.asiacalling.org

[From the web] Resolution Of Media Killings, Palparan Arrest, And GMA Conviction For HR Cases Will Help Aquino Redeem Human Rights Record – Gabriela

Resolution Of Media Killings, Palparan Arrest, And GMA Conviction For HR Cases Will Help Aquino Redeem Human Rights Record

 “It is the absence of action and political will in concretely addressing human rights violations that make the Aquino government just as accountable. Until such time that known human rights violators are arrested, cases are resolved and counter-insurgency operations are overturned, the Aquino government, just like its predecessor, will remain in the international human rights gallery of shame.”

This is according to Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan as she called on President Aquino to decisively lead a campaign to end impunity, killings and human rights violations in the country. This, after international human rights groups slammed the Aquino government for its failure in ending impunity for human rights abuses.

Read full article @ www.gabrielawomensparty.net