Tag Archives: Human rights defender

[From the web] Free Senator; End Attacks on Rights Defenders -HRW

Philippines: Free Senator; End Attacks on Rights Defenders
Duterte Critic Leila de Lima Held 3 Years on Fabricated Charges

(Manila, February 20, 2020) – Philippine authorities should immediately release Senator Leila de Lima, who has been detained for three years, and drop the politically motivated charges against her, Amnesty International, FORUM-ASIA, and Human Rights Watch said today. The mistreatment of de Lima reflects broader attacks by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte against human rights defenders, particularly women.

De Lima, who has been detained at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police since her arrest on February 24, 2017, has been one of the staunchest critics of the government’s abusive “war on drugs.” The authorities arrested her after she sought to investigate extrajudicial executions committed in the context of the anti-drug campaign.

“Every day that Senator de Lima remains detained is another day of injustice, not only against her but against all Filipinos whose rights – to life, liberty, health, and due process – have been trampled on by a violent and repressive government,” said Nicholas Bequelin, regional director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International.

Since her detention, the authorities have made no substantial progress in court proceedings for the three drug-related cases eventually brought against her. These cases have been marked by undue delays after at least six judges decided to recuse themselves from hearing the cases or opted for early retirement.

Currently, the prosecution is presenting witnesses, most of whom have been convicted of drug-related charges. De Lima has been prevented from participating in hearings and proceedings at the Philippine Senate and faces restrictions on communications with outsiders.

De Lima’s mistreatment reflects the broader repressive conditions that human rights defenders face in the country, the organizations said.

“Under the Duterte administration, women human rights defenders have repeatedly faced state-sanctioned intimidation and reprisals,” said Mukunda Kattel, executive director of FORUM-ASIA. “We have also observed the intensification of gender-based attacks, such as sexual harassment and the use of dehumanizing and misogynist language to silence women human rights defenders who continue to push for greater accountability.”

A case in point is the prominent journalist Maria Ressa, editor and CEO of the news website Rappler, which has been publishing investigative reports about the “war on drugs.” She is facing numerous lawsuits. They include attempts to shut the website down for alleged tax evasion and violation of the country’s restrictions on foreign ownership. Each of the charges carries heavy fines and sentences of up to 10 years in prison, which could lead to her imprisonment for decades.

Vice President Leni Robredo, another critic of the government, was subjected to a smear campaign by President Duterte and other high-level government officials. She had called on the government, while briefly co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), to address the flaws of the anti-drug campaign, and recommended the adoption of a health-based approach.

Among the many other human rights defenders threatened and harassed for their human rights work have been Cristina Palabay, the secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan, and nuns of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.

Human rights violations in the Philippines have come under increasing international scrutiny. At the United Nations Human Rights Council session in June 2020, the high commissioner for human rights is expected to present her report on the country’s human rights situation. The International Criminal Court confirmed in December 2019 that it would soon decide whether to open an investigation into crimes under international law committed in the context of the “war on drugs.”

In January, the United States Senate approved Senate Resolution 142, which calls for sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans against government officials responsible for de Lima’s arrest and prolonged detention, as well as for the extrajudicial executions of alleged drug offenders. Shortly afterward, the US government imposed visa restrictions on Duterte administration figures who have been implicated in serious rights violations.

“The Philippines government has grossly mistreated Senator de Lima so that other whistleblowers and rights monitors will not dare expose the abuses and injustices of Duterte’s ‘drug war,’” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The UN Human Rights Council at its June session should hold the Philippines government accountable for its abuses against the senator and other human rights defenders in the country.”

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[Press Release] Paramilitary groups, impunity….the entrenched legacies of martial law -TFDP/MAG/PAHRA

 Paramilitary groups, impunity….the entrenched legacies of martial law

Photo by Rapha-El Olegario

Photo by Rapha-El Olegario

More than nine months for the Aquino administration term end, his administration will be remembered for lost ground on important measures ofbreaking impunity which is the entrenched legacy of martial law, said the Medical Action Group Inc. (MAG), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) on the 43rd commemoration of Martial Law.

The harassments and killings of human rights defenders are on the rise in the country. Based on the documentation by the MAG and TFDP under its “Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Protection project”, since September 2013, there are 34 cases of harassment, intimidation and extra judicial killings committed to HRDs. Most of them are resisting land grabbing, mining and other development aggression projects.

“These incidents are part of a growing pattern of criminalization of human rights work and alleged human rights violations committed against human rights defenders in the country that must be broken before it escalates beyond control,” Edeliza P. Hernandez, MAG Executive Director said.

While human rights defenders play crucial role in seeking accountability for human rights violations both by government and corporations, they have faced significant challenges such as filing of trump up charges against them leading to their arrest and detention,which are systematically used by authorities to suppress dissent.For instance, the case of Barangay Chairperson Antonio L. Tolentino, human rights defender and one of the leaders ofAnibanngNagkakaisangMamamayanng Hacienda Dolores (ANIBAN), was arrested due to trumped up charges filed by private land developer and detained since April 16, 2014.

While the recent spate of killings and other alleged human rights violations that have forced hundreds of indigenous peoples to leave their communities in the provinces of Bukidnon and Surigaodel Sur has triggered international outrage and concern.

“Aquino’s pledge of revoking Executive Order (EO) No. 546 s. 2006, is nothing more of a publicity stunt as paramilitary groups continues to wreak havoc in mining affected communities in Mindanao, the most recent of which was the September 1 killing of two human rights defenders in Surigao del Sur by the paramilitary group known as Magahat-Bagani,’’ continued Emmanuel C. Amistad, TFDP Executive Director.

EO No. 546 s. 2006 by former Pres. GMA authorized local chief executives, through the police, to deputize civilian village security and force multipliers to support in counterinsurgency efforts.

Rose R. Trajano, Secretary-General of PAHRA further said “human rights defenders working on land and environment rights such as indigenous peoples have become among the most vulnerable groups in terms of killing, subjected to vilification and criminalization. These defenders must be protected because they are not only fighting for their lives but also for ours.”

“We call on the government to provide the basis for a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders by enacting a law (House Bill No. 1472, “Human Rights Defenders Protection Act of 2013) http://www.congress.gov.ph/members/search.php?id=hicap-f&pg=coauthto protect human rights defenders,” the groups said.

The groups concluded it is important for the Commission on Human Rights to issue Human Rights Advisory on the roles of human rights defenders in social transformation and protection.-end-

Contact:Rose R. Trajano, Secretary-General, PAHRA +63906-5531792 and EgayCabalitan, Advocacy Staff, TFDP +63915-7572526, +63928-8443717

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[Petition] Impartial and fair verdict for human rights defender Cocoy Tulawie! Ensure his safety and security! -IPON

Impartial and fair verdict for human rights defender Cocoy Tulawie! Ensure his safety and security!

Cocoy Tulawie HRDTemogen “Cocoy” Tulawie is a human rights defender from the Sulu region in Mindanao, the Philippines. He is the founder of the local human rights group Bawgbug and member of several civil society organizations where he was responsible for campaigns for the democratization of local politics, transparency in government and the preservation of civil rights of people living in Sulu. His campaigns uncovered numerous human rights abuses and violations on the part of the local government, among them mass rapes of women and girls committed by the sons of prominent politicians and their paramilitary protection forces and the unconstitutional declaration of a state of emergency by the provincial governor Abdulsakar Tan.

After a bomb attack against provincial governor Tan in May 2009, Tulawie was accused of being the mastermind behind it, even though evidence was lacking. In 2012 he was arrested and detained in Davao City. The trial started in October 2013 and is supposed to come to an end in late 2014.

The prosecution of Tulawie is an attempt to silence his protest against severe human rights violations. Judicial bodies and criminal prosecution authorities, especially in the rural areas of the Philippines are often highly dependent on local power brokers and can be systematically abused by the latter for personal interests.

Tulawie has been imprisoned for three and a half years now with his trial awaiting verdict on July 17, 2015. We, the International Peace Observers Network (IPON), a German independent, non-governmental organization, have accompanied and monitored the criminal case of Cocoy Tulawie since January 2013. We consider him a Prisoner of Conscience. While the trial has been conducted within reasonable time and in a fair manner, we are nevertheless worried about a conviction and further harassments due to Tulawie’s continuing activism.

According to Article 12 (1) of the 1999 United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders), human rights defenders, like Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie have the right “individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. Even though the Philippines have acknowledged this declaration, human rights defenders and other political activists often face legal and physical harassment due to their work.

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The criminalization of human rights defenders does not only violate basic rights of individuals, but also undermines the rule of law and hinders the development of an active civil society in the Philippines. “Individuals, groups, institutions and non-governmental organizations have an important role to play and a responsibility in safeguarding democracy, promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and contributing to the promotion and advancement of democratic societies, institutions and processes” (Article 18 (2), UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders).

Successfully petitioning the relevant state authorities to ensure a fair and impartial verdict and the safety of Cocoy Tulawie not only protects Tulawie’s rights, but also contributes to improving the situation of human rights defenders in the Philippines in general.

Sign petition @www.change.org

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[Appeal] Free Apung Tony Tolentino, Protect Human Rights Defenders!

Free Apung Tony Tolentino, Protect Human Rights Defenders!

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Apung Tony Tolentino, a barangay chairperson of Brgy. Hacienda Dolores, in Porac, Pampanga is accused of crimes. And what crime? He lead the fight with farmers in their right to land against private land developer, he defended and sacrificed for others who would not let the truth die with them. Apung Tony was arrested due to trumped up charges filed by private land developer and detained since April 16, 2014.

Apung Tony believes that all cases filed against him are mere forms of harassment. He emphasized that the only purpose of him being arrested is to weaken the farmers’ resistance against land corporation.

Brgy. Chair Tolentino is also one of the leaders of Aniban ng Nakakaisang Mamamayan ng Hacienda Dolores (Aniban), a farmers group from Porac, Pampanga, claiming ownership of Hacienda Dolores by virtue of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

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Uphold, assert and defend human rights!
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Read full article and sign appeal @secure.avaaz.org

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[Blog] What’s short for murder? – Abbreviations of the Philippine civil society by Joonas Rundgren

What’s short for murder? – Abbreviations of the Philippine civil society
by Joonas Rundgren
March 3, 2015

joonas blog

One of the first challenges I faced working in a Philippine human rights NGO was the working language. By this I don’t mean the often confusing mix of English and Tagalog, but the amount of abbreviations you can sometimes hear in just one sentence.

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The first case I got involved with at TFDP I could’ve not understand a thing without knowing what are DENR, DAR and CARP, or in other words, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform and Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Not to feel like a complete idiot while just having an everyday conversation with someone from the Philippine NGO field, you also should be comfortable with acronyms for Department of Justice (DOJ), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of National Defence (DND), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and so on and so on.
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However, the very first strings of letters that got me confused were the ones next to the family names on the folders beside my desk – What are all these EJKs, ARDs and HARs?

Here is an explanation for what an EJK and an ARD/HAR can actually mean in real life.

Read full article @joonasrundgren.wordpress.com

Joonas is a 27-year-old walker-thinker-writer-lawyer from Finland now based in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

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[Literary] We All Cried Out: A Poem for ORLY by Darwin Mendiola

[Literary] We All Cried Out: A Poem for ORLY by Darwin Mendiola
February 24, 2015, Carpe Diem

Photo by Rommel Yamzon/TFDP

Photo by Rommel Yamzon/TFDP

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WE ALL CRIED OUT
WHEN Tado took his last ride,
Leaving us with his eccentric humor and wit to bite…

WE ALL CRIED OUT
WHEN Ka ROMY fought his final battle to cancer,
Leaving all workers to muse in how to break their own shackles…

WE ALL CRIED OUT
WHEN Typhoon Yolanda hit the south,
Leaving thousands unprepared with the nature’s wrath…

WE ALL CRIED OUT
WHEN Jennifer Laude was strangled to death,
Leaving the LGBTs to demand for justice and respect…

WE ALL CRIED OUT
WHEN the SAF 44 was killed in a bungled operation,
Leaving the public to wonder who made such a stupid decision…

WE ALL CRIED OUT
WHEN injustices and abuses were committed everyday,
Leaving victims and their families nothing left to pray…

WHILE WE ALL CRIED OUT
THIS GUY makes us all see the brighter side of life,
Bringing laughter when hope seems to be out of sight…

WE ALL CRIED OUT AGAIN
AS his LAUGHTER finally runs dry,
Leaving us without even saying goodbye …

BUT NOT ALL is LEFT in VAIN
While we bid FAREWELL TO YOU, OUR DEAR FRIEND!
We will always REMEMBER you right up to the END.

Source: dars0357.wordpress.com

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[From the web] Justice for the valiant defender of the Banwaons! Hold the killers of Necasio Precioso Sr. accountable! -RMP

Justice for the valiant defender of the Banwaons! Hold the killers of Necasio Precioso Sr. accountable!

For the past months we have witnessed the escalation of violence done against the indigenous peoples who are against the aggressive encroachment of mining and agri-businesses in their ancestral lands. We yet again raise the red banners of grief at the loss of a valiant defender of the Banwaon tribe, Balit Barangay Captain, Necasio “Angis” Precioso Sr. Angis is the founding chairman of Tagdumahan, a local organization of indigenous Banwaons in La Paz, Agusan del Sur. As the founding chairman, Precioso was specifically against Malampay, Makilala and Tambuli mining companies in San Luis, La Paz and Talacogon. Their group, and Precioso in particular, was also against the militarization of their communities through the AFP’s Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD).

RMP

Necasio “Angis” Precioso was felled by alleged members of the 26th Infantry Battalion (26th IB) while he was walking towards his son in Kilometro-2, Barangay Nuevo Trabajo, San Luis, Agusan Del Sur. The two gunmen on a black and white Honda XRM motorcycle without a plate number had come out of the barangay gym of Plabia where the 26th IB was based and followed Precioso’s son, Neco, when he passed by the said gym. Precioso who was coming from Barangay Balit with another son, Reyjoy, had stopped along the road when he saw Neco’s motorcycle to switch phones with him. The previous night, Precioso had an argument with Master Sargeant Andres Villaganas of the 26th IB after the latter accused the former of being a rebel supporter by disallowing soldiers to camp inside their community.

Read full article @www.rmp-nmr.org

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[People] Framework Discussion on HRD Protection Platforms by Renato G. Mabunga

Framework Discussion on HRD Protection Platforms
by Renato G. Mabunga
December 16, 2014

(This article has been presented by the author to the delegates of the 6th Asian Human Rights Defenders Forum (6th AHRDF) held in Quezon City, Philippines on 3-5 December 2014)

Though use inter-changeably and oftentimes carries the same meaning, intent and even connotation, there is a THIN LINE DISTINCTION between Security of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and the Protection of Human Rights Workers.

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Coming from an Organization Development (OD) perspective: Security of HRD speaks more of the assessment of the Slide2internal realities of individual defenders and their organizations vis-à-vis their actual experience and perceptions in the conduct of doing human rights work. It is an evaluation of perceived risks and threats that directly impacts on one’s personal commitment (to the cause of human rights), involvement (to organizations), and sustainability of seeing through some changes in the external situation. It also defines the degree of threshold for organization indicating critical shift or change in the conduct of operation – from a normal, acceptable level of usual activities to conscious weighing of the impact and dangers of particular action to the lives of the implementers and/or the target communities.

slide21Protection of HRDs, on the other hand, is a response or measures derived from the assessment of risks and threats. This could either be personal or at the individual level, or organizational. And, may take the form of internal policies of the organization or personal disciplinary measures and precautions of individual HRDs. All of which are aimed at lessening risks and threats.

From individual or organizational internal measures, all lines of security questions become impetus to many forms of advocacy issues and concerns for the Protection and Recognition of the rights of Human Rights Defenders.

From my Research , there are several significant variables both internal and external that characterized the foundational elements of a human rights defender. For the internal factors, I grouped them into two- system categories to provide clearer focus and define the boundaries; namely: (1) the Individual and (2) the Organizational.

Read full article @renatomabunga.wordpress.com

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[Press Release] Group asks UN Special Rapporteur to query Negros labor activist killings -PM

Group asks UN Special Rapporteur to query Negros labor activist killings

Justice Rolando Pango

Justice Rolando Pango

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the Partido Manggagawa asked UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst to inquire on the killings of labor activists in Negros Occidental. “The culture of impunity and extra-judicial killings of labor activists persists under the administration of Benigno Aquino III. In the last two years, two farm worker leaders have been killed while another survived an assassination attempt, all in Negros where agrarian and labor disputes simmer,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

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Forst is in the Philippines and has expressed interest in requesting the government for an official visit and investigation after meeting with human rights groups over the past several days. Two predecessors of Forst were unable to obtain invitations from the government to inquire into reports of attacks against human rights defenders in the country.

The spate of killings against worker and land rights defenders in Negros happened amidst agrarian and labor disputes between farm workers and sugar planters. Last November 29, Rolando Pango, a PM member, labor leader in Binalbagan town and an organizer in neighboring Isabela town died after being shot in the head by two men. Pango had previously received death threats while he was assisting workers of Hacienda Salud in Isabela town in processing for coverage under land reform and in filing illegal dismissal charges against landlord Manuel “Manolet” Lamata. Lamata heads the powerful Negros sugar planters association.

PM also called on the Department of Labor and Employment, the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council and the Department of Justice to take cognizance of Pango’s case as they have a mandate to act on labor-related extra-judicial killings.

Since 2011, the labor coalition Nagkaisa!, of which PM is an affiliate, has been engaged in dialogue with the Aquino administration on key labor issues, including some 62 unsolved cases of labor-related extra-judicial killings.

Magtubo added that in December 29, 2012, Victoriano Embang, president of the Maria Cecilia Farm Workers Association (MACFAWA) in Moises Padilla town, was killed amidst another agrarian and labor dispute with the influential Montillano clan. His brother, Anterio, also a leader of MACFAWA, later survived an ambush in February 28, 2013.

Still PM insisted that the most widespread infringement of human rights in the labor front is the violation of workers’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

“The onslaught of state-sanctioned contractualization schemes have effectively disarmed workers of their ability to defend themselves, through their unions, against many forms of abuse and exploitation” concluded Magtubo.

Press Release
December 10, 2014

http://partidongmanggagawa2001.blogspot.com/2014/12/group-asks-un-special-rapporteur-to-act.html?spref=fb

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[Urgent Alert] Philippines: A Lawyer and Human Rights Defender was Arrested During Forced Eviction of Residents in Mandaue City, Cebu Province -TFDP

(Urgent Alert) Philippines: A Lawyer and Human Rights Defender was Arrested During Forced Eviction of Residents in Mandaue City, Cebu Province

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Atty. Jose Aaron Pedrosa, Jr., 29, a Board Member of the human rights organization Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and leader of the multi-sectoral organization SANLAKAS, was arrested in Sitio Mahayag, Barangay Subang Daku, Mandaue City on November 25, 2014 at around 1:45pm. He was arrested by more or less twenty (20) police officers headed by a certain Miguel Andiza while pleading to the police to stop harassing the residents over yet another case of forced eviction against them. According to Pedrosa, the police attempted to drag the residents, most of whom were women, into the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) vehicle. Atty. Pedrosa was brought to Police Station 2, Mandaue and charged with Obstruction of Justice.

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Aside from Atty. Pedrosa, a community leader named Jessica A. Zuniga, 22 years old, was also arrested.

We now urge government authorities for the immediate release of Atty. Jose Aaron Pedrosa and Jessica A. Zuniga, since the main reason for their arbitrary detention is to suppress their activities in defense of human rights. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of both Atty. Pedrosa, and Ms. Zuniga, as well as of all human rights defenders in the Philippines. And, put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Ms. Zuniga and all human rights defenders to ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

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[Press Release] Labor group calls for release of detained Cebu union leader -PM

Labor group calls for release of detained Cebu union leader

The militant Partido Manggagawa (PM) today called for the release of the detained union president of Copper Corp. in Toledo City, Cebu as his petition for bail is heard today. Tony Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PAMCC-AGLO), is currently detained at the Toledo city jail after he was arrested last October 25 in Cavite on the strength of warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. He has filed an urgent motion for bail that is being heard today in Toledo.

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Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, appealed for the release of Cuizon, a PM national council member, on humanitarian grounds as he is sickly and advanced of age. “A politician gets the privilege of hospital arrest and a US soldiers gets special treatment but a worker, even if ill and elderly, has to endure the bad conditions of a city jail for more than a month now,” he added.

Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson, stated that on Cuizon’s first day at the Toledo jail, the latter had a high blood attack and was only brought to a clinic. “Cuizon is a senior citizen who suffers from severe hypertension, diabetes and arthritis, arguably work-related illnesses borne out of decades working in the copper mines of Toledo,” he explained.

Magtubo argued that the arrest warrants, criminal cases and police raids were in violation of existing guidelines in the conduct of police during labor disputes. PM insists that the warrants were flawed since they were the product of illegal raids conducted in March 2013 on the PAMCC office, and the houses of Cuizon and the union treasurer. The union avers that the firearms and a grenade allegedly found in the raid at the PAMCC office were planted by the police.

“Once again the Philippines rivals Colombia as the most dangerous place for unionists with numerous cases of labor leaders killed, injured or harassed. Cuizon’s arrest and incarceration illustrates the double standard of justice in our country,” Magtubo stated.

Derige averred that “The arrest of Ka Tony is part of Carmen Copper management’s continuing effort to bust the genuine union at the mine and leave the workers defenseless in the face of attempts to downgrade wages and benefits, and impose contractualization among mine workers. The police and the courts are being used as instruments of capitalists.”

Derige explained that Cuizon’s arrest followed on the heels of the decertification of PAMCC as the sole and exclusive bargaining union at the mine, and the formation of a management-backed yellow union.

Carmen Copper has recently been hit by spate of labor disputes as mine workers resist corporate attacks on working conditions. Last February, PAMCC filed a notice of strike for management’s unfair labor practices and violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Also this year, workers contracted to haul and dispose of Carmen Copper’s mine wastes were derailed in forming a union because of the intervention of the huge manpower contractor Asiapro but the case remains pending at the Labor Department. Unions have condemned Asiapro as an illegal labor-only contractor.

Press Release
November 25, 2014
Partido Manggagawa
Contact Dennis Derige @ 09335142179

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[Urgent Appeal] Death Threat against an Anti-Mining Advocate and A Human Rights Defender in Zambales Province -TFDP

URGENT APPEAL: Death Threat against an Anti-Mining Advocate and A Human Rights Defender in Zambales Province
October 28, 2014

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the death threat received by a human rights defender due to his involvement in the efforts for the cancellation of mining operations in the province of Zambales.

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If you wish to make any inquiries, please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP at: 45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109; email: tfdp.urgentappeals@gmail.com and tfdp.1974@gmail.com; or call: +632 4378054.
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Case Title: Molino HAR
Case: Harassment
Name of Victim: Benito E. Molino
Date of Incident: October 15, 2014
Place of Incident: Via Facebook Post
Alleged Perpetrator: a certain Dexter Movilla, also known as Mark Minimo
Motive: Harassment against an Anti-Mining Advocate and A Human Rights Defender

Account of the Incident:

An expert in forensic medicine and an anti-mining advocate, Doctor Benito E. Molino received a death threat via private message to his Facebook account which was posted by a certain Dexter Movilla, also known as Mark Minimo, on October 15, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.

The message was (in Tagalog dialect), “Mxado kng ma papel mga tao nwlan ng trabho dhl sau tndaan m isang bala k lng mag ingat ingat k bka isang araw patay kna.”

(You’re a meddler. People lose their jobs because of you. Keep in mind that one bullet can kill you. Beware, one day you’re dead.)

Another message was sent on October 12, 2014 at 8:08 p.m. It said, (also in Tagalog), “Wla pla mrami ng wlng trabaho nyan dhl sa pilit ny0ng ipahnto ang mining Alm nyo b dhl sa gnwa nyo mraming gl8 sa in u d mta2hmik buhay nyo sa gnwa nyo lahat ng mining pna hnto nyo.”

(People lose their jobs because you coerced the mining company to stop. Do you know, because of what you did, many are angry with you, you will not have peace because of what you did, you stopped all mining operations.)

Dr. Molino, fondly called as “Doc Ben”, 57, is at the center of the struggle against mining operations in Sta. Cruz. Currently, he has been at the receiving end of criticisms from supporters of mining companies in the province. Mine workers have blamed Doc Ben for the suspension of mining activities that cost them their jobs.

Doc Ben is the chairperson of the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS). CCOS is of the active anti-mining groups in the province that has been strongly campaigning for the cancellation of mining operations due to the vast amount of destruction in the environment that would eventually affect the health and livelihood of the people. According to Doc Ben, nickel laterite (soil layer rich in nickel compound) has clogged the natural flow of water from rivers, creeks, fishponds, shorelines and farmlands. Apparently, more than 300 hectares of farmlands have already been destroyed which has caused farmers of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria millions worth of income.

On July 15, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office in Central Luzon suspended the operations of four mining companies that extract nickel laterite in the province, citing their “unsystematic mining or stripping method.” Doc Ben claimed that the suspension order was only an initial victory for Sta. Cruz residents who, they say, have been struggling to revive their sources of livelihood, which are mostly farming and fishing.

Recently, mine workers appealed to the provincial officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to lift the suspension order against four mining companies in Sta. Cruz, Zambales such as the Diversified Metals Corporation, Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc.

Aside from his activities in the anti-mining movement, Doc Ben is currently working with the Medical Action Group (MAG), in partnership with the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) for the protection of human rights defenders in the country. Doc Ben is a lecturer and an expert in medical investigation and documentation of torture cases. He is also involved in the investigation and documentation of alleged cases of enforced disappearances, particularly in exhumations.

Sample letter:

Dear___________,

I am writing to draw your attention regarding the death threat received by Dr. Benito Molino, 51, due to his involvement in the efforts for the cancellation of mining operations in the province of Zambales.

Dr. Molino received a death threat via private message to his Facebook account which was posted by a certain Dexter Movilla, also known as Mark Minimo, on October 15, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.

The message was (in Tagalog dialect), “Mxado kng ma papel mga tao nwlan ng trabho dhl sau tndaan m isang bala k lng mag ingat ingat k bka isang araw patay kna.”

(You’re a meddler. People lose their jobs because of you. Keep in mind that one bullet can kill you. Beware, one day you’re dead.)

Another message was sent on October 12, 2014 at 8:08 p.m. It said, (also in Tagalog), “Wla pla mrami ng wlng trabaho nyan dhl sa pilit ny0ng ipahnto ang mining Alm nyo b dhl sa gnwa nyo mraming gl8 sa in u d mta2hmik buhay nyo sa gnwa nyo lahat ng mining pna hnto nyo.”

(People lose their jobs because you coerced the mining company to stop. Do you know, because of what you did, many are angry with you, you will not have peace because of what you did, you stopped all mining operations.)

I have learned that Dr. Molino is at the center of the struggle against mining operations in Sta. Cruz. Currently, he has been at the receiving end of criticisms from supporters of mining companies in the province. Mine workers have blamed Dr. Molino for the suspension of mining activities that cost them their jobs.

It was also brought to our attention that Dr. Molino and his group, the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS), has been strongly campaigning for the cancellation of mining operations due to the vast amount of destruction in the environment that would eventually affect the health and livelihood of the people. According to Dr. Molino, nickel laterite (soil layer rich in nickel compound) has clogged the natural flow of water from rivers, creeks, fishponds, shorelines and farmlands. Apparently, more than 300 hectares of farmlands have already been destroyed which has caused farmers of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria millions worth of income.

From what I have learned, on July 15, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office in Central Luzon has already suspended the operations of four mining companies that extract nickel laterite in the province, citing their “unsystematic mining or stripping method.” And from what I understand, the suspension order is only an initial victory for Sta. Cruz residents since they have been struggling to revive their sources of livelihood, which are mostly farming and fishing.

Furthermore, aside from his activities in the anti-mining movement, Dr. Molino is currently working with the Medical Action Group (MAG), in partnership with the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) for the protection of human rights defenders in the country. Dr. Molino is an expert in medical investigation and documentation of torture cases; and is also involved in the investigation and documentation of alleged cases of enforced disappearances, particularly in exhumations.

We now urge you to call upon competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation or inquiry into this harassment case, and ensure that adequate, effective and prompt action is granted favorably to Dr. Benito E. Molino.

Lastly, we hope that the government will continue to guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution and international human rights standards, and to subject violators for appropriate penalties punishment under Philippine Laws.

I look forward to your urgent action in this case.

Yours sincerely,

______________________________

Please send your letters to:

1. Hon. Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@op.gov.ph

2. Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Visayas Avenue
Diliman, 1100 Quezon City
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 920 4301
Tel: +63 2 920 4352; +63 2 926 2688; +632 926 2535; +63 2 925 8275
Email: osec@denr.gov.ph

3. Secretary Leila M. De Lima
Department of Justice (DOJ)
Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila 1000
Philippines
Fax: +632 523 9548
Tel: +632 521 1908
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / lmdelima.doj@gmail.com

4. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

5. Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401
Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

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.

[Urgent Appeal] Perjury Case Filed Against a Student Human Rights Defender -TFDP

URGENT APPEAL
October 9, 2014

(PHILIPPINES) Perjury Case Filed Against a Student Human Rights Defender

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) previously sent an appeal regarding the incident of harassment perpetrated by school authorities against a student human rights defender named Ernie Gonzales Quisora. This time, we are forwarding you a second appeal in line with the perjury case recently filed in Court by the school teacher Mr. Joseph D. Quiles against Quisora and several other student leaders.

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP.  Kindly send email to tfdp.1974@gmail.com or call +632 4378054.

TFDP logo small
________________________________________
Case Title:                           Quisora HAR 2
Case:                                     Harassment
Name of Victims:             Ernie Gonzales Quisora; John Clifford C. Bisol; Eduardo V. Muerong, Jr.; Daisy Mae M. Viola; Leneth F. Bacsal; Crystal Ann P. Lusuego; Applye B. Estuye; Jimbo R. Cruz; Rowel D.G. Chavez; and, Rheginald C. Padua
Date of Incident:              October 2014
Place of Incident:             Office of the City Prosecutor, Quezon City
Alleged Perpetrator:      Mr. Joseph D. Quiles
Motive:                                retribution against student leaders who supported/participated in the protest action initiated by faculty members

Account of the Incident:

Mr. Joseph D. Quiles, an instructor at the Marikina Polytechnic College, filed a perjury case (Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code) against: 1) Ernie Quisora, 2) John Clifford C. Bisol, 3) Eduardo V. Muerong, Jr., 4) Daisy Mae M. Viola, 5) Leneth F. Bacsal, 6) Crystal Ann P. Lusuego, 7) Applye B. Estuye, 8) Jimbo R. Cruz, 9) Rowel D.G. Chavez, and 10) Rheginald C. Padua.

The said case is filed at the office of Assistant City Prosecutor Conrado C. Rosario. By virtue of a subpoena sent to Quisora and the other respondents, they already appeared in the preliminary investigation conducted on October 2, 2014, held at the Office of the Prosecutor.

Based on previous accounts, it has been reported that Quisora, a student of Marikina Polytechnic College, and a Student Council volunteer, suffered minor injuries during a scuffle between him and Mr. Quiles, a college professor. Quisora suffered a bruise on his left hand. He also felt pain on his nape. The incident happened on December 20, 2013. Quiles and school guards alleged that Quisora is a supporter of the protest action conducted by the faculty association.

Quisora and other student leaders already filed a formal complaint to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) against Quiles.

Quiles filed the perjury case apparently as retribution and a counter attack against leaders and advocates of students’ rights and welfare, particularly members and volunteers of the Student Council.

REQUESTED ACTION:
Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into the case of repression and harassment against Ernie Gonzales Quisora; John Clifford C. Bisol; Eduardo V. Muerong, Jr.; Daisy Mae M. Viola; Leneth F. Bacsal; Crystal Ann P. Lusuego; Applye B. Estuye; Jimbo R. Cruz; Rowel D.G. Chavez; and, Rheginald C. Padua, and urge concerned agencies to immediately intervene and resolve the case.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ____________,

I am writing to draw your attention regarding the retribution against student leaders who supported/participated in the protest action held in December 2013 which was initiated by faculty members of the Marikina Polytechnic College.

I have learned that Mr. Joseph D. Quiles, a college instructor, filed a perjury case (Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code) against: 1) Ernie Quisora, 2) John Clifford C. Bisol, 3) Eduardo V. Muerong, Jr. 4) Daisy Mae M. Viola, 5) Leneth F. Bacsal, 6) Crystal Ann P. Lusuego, 7) Applye B. Estuye, 8) Jimbo R. Cruz, 9) Rowel D.G. Chavez, and 10) Rheginald C. Padua.

The said case is filed at the office of Assistant City Prosecutor Conrado C. Rosario. By virtue of a subpoena sent to Quisora and other respondents, they already appeared in the preliminary investigation conducted on October 2, 2014, held at the Office of the Prosecutor.

I have also learned that based on previous accounts, it has been reported that Quisora, a Student Council volunteer, suffered minor injuries during a scuffle between him and Mr. Quiles, a college professor. Quisora suffered a bruise on his left hand. He also felt pain on his nape. Quiles and school guards alleged that Quisora is a supporter of the protest action conducted by the faculty association.

It was also brought to my attention that Quisora and other student leaders already filed a formal complaint to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) against Quiles.

Eventually, Quiles filed the perjury case against the student leaders and advocates of students’ rights and welfare, particularly members and volunteers of the Student Council.

Therefore, we believe that all cases filed against the students are mere harassments.

We now call on concerned government agencies to initiate inquiries into the said case and appropriate action must be done accordingly. Please guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ernie Quisora and companions, and put an end to these acts of harassment and repression.

I look forward to your urgent action.

Respectfully yours,
_________________________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1.    Chairperson Patricia B. Licuanan
Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
4th Floor Higher Education Development Center (HEDC) Building
C.P. Garcia Avenue, U.P. Campus
Diliman, Quezon City 1101
Philippines
Fax: +632 4411256
Tel:  +632 4410927 loc. 400, 401, 402
Email:    ched.oc2011@gmail.com; info@ched.gov.ph

2.    Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

3.    Chairperson Leon G. Flores
National Youth Commission (NYC)
4th Floor, Bookman Building
373 Quezon Avenue
Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +632 4487330
Email:  info@nyc.gov.ph

4.    Mayor Del De Guzman
Marikina City
Marikina City Hall, Shoe Avenue
Sta. Elena, Marikina City 1800
Philippines
Fax: +632 6465277; +632 6461621
Tel: +632 6461634; +632 6829281; +632 6462360-70

5.    Donald T. Lee
City Prosecutor
Office of the City Prosecutor
Hall of Justice Building
Quezon City
Philippines
Telefax: +632 9243880
Email: ocpquezon@doj.gov.ph

[From the web] Hon. Walden Bello: Justice for Cocoy Tulawie, Uphold Human Rights in Mindanao -MPC

Hon. Walden Bello: Justice for Cocoy Tulawie, Uphold Human Rights in Mindanao

Prof. Walden Bello visiting Cocoy at the Davao City Police Office on March 9, 2012 -Photo by MPC

Prof. Walden Bello visiting Cocoy at the Davao City Police Office on March 9, 2012 -Photo by MPC

June 5, 2012 – Prof. Walden Bello, AKBAYAN Party-list Representative delivered a privileged speech at the Congress on Cocoy Tulawie case. Below is the full text of his speech:

“It is alarming how the legal mantra “innocent until proven guilty” holds no water in some parts of the country. In fact, we are confronted with the reality that sees human rights advocates jailed and prosecuted as criminals by precisely the same people that they try to call to account. We are confronted with the reality that human rights defenders, even as they fight for the rights of others, must prove their innocence to be cleared of guilt. Clearly, the culture of impunity persists. And this culture allows for members of political and economic powerhouses to violate the rights of ordinary Filipinos, and quash voices of dissent with an even more severe force against transparency, accountability and democracy. This culture creates a vicious cycle and it targets those who lay their life on the line to empower people to live a life of dignity.

MPC

Human rights groups have observed the increasing criminalisation of human rights defenders across the country. In a report by the International Peace Observers Network (IPON), elites have systematically filed criminal cases against advocates and this has been particularly effective in silencing those who try to claim what is rightfully theirs. This effort is employed by elites across the board, from issues of land reform and the redistribution of agricultural lands to the tillers, to issues of peace and stemming the tide of violence in political hotspots like ARMM.

A very important illustration of the human rights predicament we are in is the case of Sulu human rights defender Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie. Today, Mr. Tulawie languishes in jail for standing up against the abuses of local government officials; he is in jail for a crime whose witnesses already admitted to having been forced to make false testimonies against him.

All this begs the question, who is Mr. Tulawie and what has he done to earn the ire of local powerful and influential local interests?

Mr. Tulawie is a leader in the human rights movement in Sulu. Through his organization, Bawgbug, Cocoy led the protests against violations against the dignity and life of ordinary Filipinos. He sought to make local government leaders and the military accountable for their abuse of power. In particular, he spoke vehemently against human rights violations incurred by the military in its attempt to contain the Abu Sayyaf and has called for investigations of the same. To protect individual liberties and take a stand against institutionalized discriminatory religious profiling, he led the opposition to the plan to impose an ID system in Sulu. He has likewise raised his voice against the increasing incidence of gang rapes and sexual violence against women that involved sons of influential families and the Civilian Emergency Forces in Sulu at a time when the local government would rather sweep the incidences under the rug. He also openly engaged and criticized Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan for the warrantless arrests and the violation of civil liberties that ensued during the 2009 State of Emergency in Sulu.

Read full article @www.mpc.org.ph

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.

[Urgent Appeal] A union member of the Albay Labor Employees Organization (ALEO) was illegally arrested and harassed by police authorities in Albay Province. -TFDP

URGENT APPEAL
August 28, 2014

(Philippines) A union member of the Albay Labor Employees Organization (ALEO) was illegally arrested and harassed by police authorities in Albay Province.

Photo TFDP

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the arbitrary arrest and harassment by the police against a member of a labor union, and the threat and intimidation done to his colleague.

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP at: 45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109; email: tfdp.urgentappeals@gmail.com and tfdp.1974@gmail.com; or call: +632 4378054.

TFDP logo small

Case Title: Barcelon ARD and De Vera HAR
Case: Unlawful Arrest and Detention and Harassment
Name of victims: 1) Rommel Barcelon; 2) Ephraim De Vera
Date of Incident: July 16 and 17, 2014
Place of Incident: Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) main office at W. Vinzons Street, Old Albay
Alleged perpetrators: Legazpi Chief Police Superintendent Alex S. Pederio; Senior Police Officer Velasco; Police Officer 2 Balderama; PO2 Taduran; Police Officer Julius Romano; and Police Officer Castuera
Motive: Harassment against union members and workers opposing the privatization of an electric cooperative

Account of the Incident:

A union member of the Albay Labor Employees Organization (ALEO) and Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) was illegally arrested and harassed by police authorities in Albay.

Rommel Barcelon, an active member of ALECO, was arrested and detained on July 16, 2014, allegedly on charges of violating the Anti-Pilferage Law (Republic Act 7832 or an act penalizing the pilferage of electricity and theft of electric power transmission lines and or materials).

Barcelon was cleaning the area near the picket line of the ALEO when he was approached by Francisco Hoazel. Barcelon was requested by Hoazel to fix the drop wire (electrical wiring) in a nearby lamppost that was detached due to the recent typhoon Glenda in order to avoid accident.

Having a background of being an electrical lineman, Barcelon generously attempted to do the work when a certain Paulino Belga, the private chief security of Albay Power Energy Corporation (APEC)—who fully assumed the management and operation of ALECO, accused Barcelon of pilferage. Barcelon decided to discontinue his work and went down with the drop wire and his tools.

After about ten minutes, a police mobile car with Senior Police Officer Velasco and Police Officer Taduran passed by the area. Belga asked the police for assistance, claiming that Barcelon committed pilferage.

Police Officers Velasco and Taduran invited Barcelon to the police precinct supposedly for some clarification. But when they arrived at the police station in Legazpi City, a police blotter was immediately executed against Barcelon. Also, a certain Police Julius Romano was so agitated and wanted to detain Barcelon. Fortunately, several of Barcelon’s colleagues and friends went to the police station. They argued that the arrest was illegal because there was no evidence that will prove Barcelon committed pilferage or illegal connection. Eventually, the police released Barcelon.

On July 17, 2014, a day after the incident, Legazpi Police Chief Alex S. Pederio, a certain Officer Castuera, and seven other police in plain clothes arrived at the ALECO/ALEO picket protest area and grabbed Barcelon. They immediately handcuffed him and accused him as an escapee.

Ephraim De Vera, Aleco Labor and Employees Union secretary, talked to Pederio and pleaded to release Barcelon since they do not have an arrest warrant. Pederio replied and threatened De Vera to be arrested for obstruction of justice if they insist and continue to impede the arrest of Barcelon. Finally, Barcelon was brought to the precinct and was detained.

Atty. Riche Regala, the lawyer of the labor union arrived at the police station. He argued that Barcelon should not be detained without any reason. Regala asserted that there is no basis or hard evidence of the alleged violations or crime. He added that they should not arrest and detain a person, and then build the case later. Regala warned Pederio that if they will continue to detain Barcelon, he will file a complaint against them.

Later that day, Barcelon was released.

Background Information:

Rommel Barcelon is one of the active members of ALECO/ALEO previously on strike and in dispute with San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC) who fully assume the management and operation of ALECO, which later on changed its name to Albay Power Energy Corp (APEC).

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered the employees (including Barcelon) of Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) to return to work to bring back normal operations and transactions. This was issued in January 2014, but without any reason, APEC ignored the order and allegedly banned Barcelon and other workers even if they were willing, ready and able to provide services for the rehabilitation of Albay’s power infrastructure.

The DOLE has intervened in the labor dispute at the cooperative as tension escalated frequently. Workers have been on strike since last year against the takeover of the SMEC. SMEC is the sole bidder of the concession agreement signed on October 29, 2013.

Sample letter:

Dear___________,

I am writing to draw your attention regarding the arbitrary arrest and harassment by the police against a member of a labor union, and the threat and intimidation done to his colleague.

Rommel Barcelon, an active member of Albay Labor Employees Organization (ALEO) and Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) was arrested and detained on July 16, 2014, allegedly on charges of violating the Anti-Pilferage Law (Republic Act 7832 or an act penalizing the pilferage of electricity and theft of electric power transmission lines and or materials).

Before the arrest, Barcelon together with other labor union members were on strike to protest against San Miguel Energy Corporation’s (SMEC) takeover and assumption of management and operation of ALECO, which later on changed its name to Albay Power Energy Corp (APEC).

Based on report, Barcelon was requested by a neighbor to fix a drop wire (electrical wiring) which was disconnected (caused by Typhoon Glenda) in a nearby lamppost in order to avoid accident. Having a background of being an electrical lineman, Barcelon generously attempted to do the work when a certain Paulino Belga, the private chief security of APEC, accused Barcelon of pilferage. Belga then sought the assistance of Senior Police Officer Velasco and Police Officer Taduran who invited Barcelon to the police station for questioning. At the station, the police attempted to detain Barcelon. Fortunately, his colleagues resisted and argued that the arrest was illegal. Eventually, the police released Barcelon, supposedly due to lack of evidence.

But I have also learned that on July 17, 2014, the day after the incident, the police headed by Legazpi Police Chief Alex S. Pederio, returned to the picket line and arrested Barcelon.

It was also brought to our attention that Ephraim De Vera, ALECO Labor and Employees Union secretary, talked to Pederio and pleaded to release Barcelon since they do not have an arrest warrant. Pederio replied and threatened De Vera to be arrested for obstruction of justice if they insist and continue to impede the arrest of Barcelon. Finally, Barcelon was brought to the precinct and was detained.

Later that day, Atty Riche Regala, the lawyer of the labor union arrived at the police station. He argued that Barcelon should not be detained without any reason. Regala asserted that there was no basis or hard evidence of the alleged violation or crime.

From what I have learned, Rommel Barcelon is one of the active members of ALECO/ALEO previously on strike and in dispute with San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC).

Furthermore, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered the employees (including Barcelon) of Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) to return to work to bring back normal operations and transactions. This was issued in January 2014, but without any reason APEC ignored the order and allegedly banned Barcelon and other workers even if they were willing, ready and able to provide services for the rehabilitation of Albay’s power infrastructure.

Until now, there are reports that protesting workers are being harassed by the APEC management.

We now urge you to call upon competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation or inquiry into these events, and ensure that adequate, effective and prompt action is granted favorably to Rommel Barcelon, Ephraim De Vera and members of ALEO and former APECO.

Lastly, we hope that the government will continue to guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution and international human rights standards, and to subject violators for appropriate penalties punishment under Philippine Laws.

I look forward to your urgent action in this case.
Yours sincerely,

______________________

Please send your letters to:

1. Hon. Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@op.gov.ph

2. Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
Building, Muralla Wing cor. General Luna St., Intramuros,
City of Manila, 1002
Philippines
Tel No: 527-3000 loc. 701, 703, 704, 706, 707
Fax No: 336-8182
Email: secrdb@dole.gov.ph

3. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

4. Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401
Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

5. Bureau for Workers’ Activities
International Labor Organization (ILO)
Tel: +41 22 799 70 21
Fax: +41 22 799 65 70
Website: http://www.ilo.org/actrav
Email: actrav@ilo.org

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] Church, human rights groups call on PNoy to act on killing of farmer leader, stop violence in Hacienda Dolores

Church, human rights groups call on PNoy to act on killing of farmer leader, stop violence in Hacienda Dolores

Photo by PCICC

Photo by PCICC

In support of seeking justice for the widow of Menelao “Ka Melon” Barcia, the Archdiocese of Pampanga, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), and various human rights groups call on the attention of the government by showing concrete action to stop the violence in Hacienda Dolores, Porac, Pampanga.

Ka Melon, 57 years old, was driving to his house in his owner type jeep with his wife and niece on May 2, 2014 in the evening, when he was ambushed in Purok 3, Barangay Manibaug Paralaya in Porac, Pampanga, and shot at close range by still an unidentified individual. Based on reports, he was hit at the neck, lost control of the jeep and bumped a parked truck. The assailant followed up and shot him four times on the chest, which killed him instantly. Ka Melon’s wife was also hit with gunshots in her extremities that need surgery. His niece was not hurt in the attack.

Ka Melon, a barangay kagawad of Barangay Hacienda Dolores, was also one of the leaders of the Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Hacienda Dolores (ANIBAN), a group that claims ownership of Hacienda Dolores by virtue of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). At the time of the attack, Ka Melon was reportedly carrying documents relating to agrarian dispute which he was supporting and assisting on behalf of farmers and their families in claiming and defending their right to land and livelihood in Hacienda Dolores for the past 57 years.

In a press conference held last May 10, 2014 in St. Cathering Parish in Porac, Pampanga, “Menelao was an innocent civilian like many of us who just wanted to get home that day. But the manner of his death was brutal enough that no sense could be made of it except that it was done with impunity and disregard for the rule of law,” Archidiocese of Pampanga Bishop Paciano B. Aniceto lamented.

“The killing of Ka Melon was simply the latest in a long list of similar attacks and violence committed in Hacienda Dolores, which have increasingly involved armed security personnel of private landowners targeting leaders and human rights defenders,” said Edeliza P. Hernandez of the Medical Action Group (MAG).

The list of alarming statistics about the agrarian dispute in Hacienda Dolores is long. Before Ka Melon was killed, Brgy. Hacienda Dolores Chair Antonio Tolentino, also leader of ANIBAN, was arrested due to trumped up charges of kidnapping and car napping filed by real estate corporation, LLL co. who claimed ownership of the disputed land.

“Sana ay wala ng susunod pa sa amin na maging biktima at sana tumulong na ang gobyerno na magkaroon ng ng kapayapaan sa barangay (Hacienda Dolores) namin,” Maria Barcia, widow of Ka Melon lamented.

Rita B. Melecio of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) said, “to our mind, it is a lack of political will to address the culture of impunity which is the main reason the violence and killings continue in Hacienda Dolores. When armed security personnel think that they can get away with these heinous crimes, then no amount of tough talk can stem the tide of violence.”

“We demand the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Special Concerns and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to immediately act on the resolution of the land conflict in Hacienda Dolores particularly the ancestral domain and the CARP issues,” said in a statement of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA).

The groups also called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct immediate and though investigation, identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Press release
May 11, 2014

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[Statement] Dakila on the death of Arvin “Tado” Jimenez

Statement of Dakila on the death of Arvin “Tado” Jimenez

tado

Arvin Jimenez, more popularly known as “Tado” passed away on the morning of February 7, 2014 in a bus accident in Bontoc, Mountain Province. Tado had been working on a series of travel-themed video projects titled “40 Mountains”, another one of his many advocacies for the environment.

Dakila new

Tado is one of the co-founders of Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, a group creatively inspiring social transformation. He established Dakila in 2005 together with Lourd de Veyra, Noel Cabangon, Buwi Meneses, and Ronnie Lazaro.

Tado, as we know him, is a true artist and a dedicated activist.

His thought-provoking lines, witty commentary and signature style commanded the attention and rebellion of the public that sought for alternative heroes. His ideas, bordering from the insanely absurd to downright brilliant, spawned outstanding works that continue to influence this generation.

His unusual creative mind blurts out genius campaign ideas such as Dakila’s “Ang Mabuhay Nang Dahil Sa Iyo”, a play on the Philippine National Anthem’s last lines to emphasize the brand of heroism Dakila advocates.

The untimely demise of Tado will truly leave a great void in the hearts of his family, friends, colleagues, comrades, fans, his fellow Marikenos, the art and culture community, and the Philippine social movement.

While Tado is known to many as a public figure, his most important role is being “Ama” to his wife Lei and to his daughters, Taja, Diyosa, Indi, and Tila. He did so with excellence, passion, and dedication that greatly surpassed his greatness as an artist and nobility as an activist.

To Dakila, his is a life worth lived. He is our modern hero. We honor him by treading the same path so that the nobility of his life will live on.

Ang mabuhay nang nagbibigay pugay sa iyong buhay!

Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
8 February 2014
For Press Inquiries, contact 09151780240, 4354309 and mabuhay@dakila.org.ph
As of February 8, 4:44pm
Public Statement of the Family and Friends of Tado

We would like to express our gratitude for your words of comfort at this difficult time and for sharing your memories of our beloved Tado.

The remains of Tado is now being transported from Bontoc to Manila. We will be announcing details of his wake as soon as arrangements are finalized. Kindly bear with us as we mourn privately for our loss.

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.

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[Urgent Appeal] A female Human Rights Defender in the Agrarian Reform Sector is brutally murdered -TFDP

URGENT APPEAL

November 12, 2013

(PHILIPPINES) A female Human Rights Defender in the Agrarian Reform Sector is brutally murdered

ISSUES: Human Rights Defenders; Harassment and Intimidation; Agrarian Reform; Land Grabbing

___________________________________

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the killing of a female human rights defender in Quezon Province.

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP, kindly send email to tfdp1974@gmail.com or call +632 4378054/9950246.

TFDP logo small

___________________________

Case Title: Tulid HRD Killing

Case: Killing of a Human Rights Defender (Non-State Actor)

Name of Victim: Elisa Lascoña Tulid

Date of Incident: October 19, 2013

Place of Incident: Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province

Alleged Perpetrators: Rannie Bugnot, in connivance with Edwin Ausa (suspected henchman)

_________________________________

Account of the Incident:

A female human rights defender in the agrarian reform sector and leader of the peasant group Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Barangay Tala at Camflora, was murdered on October 19, 2013, at 2:00pm in Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province.

Elisa L. Tulid, 37, of Sitio Kabulihan, Barangay Tala, was shot point-blank by a certain Rannie Bugnot, and was pronounced dead on the spot.

According to witnesses, moments before the shooting incident, Elisa together with her husband Danny Boy, 46, and daughter Melanie, 4, were seen walking on their way home from Sitio Tamnay. Apparently the three sought the service of a repairman to restore their traditional plough used in farming.

When they reached Sitio Kumbenyo, the couple was surprised when Bugnot blocked their path. Without any warning, Bugnot pointed his gun at Danny Boy. The lone gunman fired three gunshots, but luckily Danny Boy was able to run a few meters from the scene. Their daughter Melanie was pushed by Elisa and was able to flee in another other direction.

Danny Boy thought that Rannie will spare his wife. He was shocked when he saw the gunman shoot his wife at short range. Danny Boy was helpless and could not do anything to save the life of his wife.

Danny Boy immediately rushed to the military camp in Barangay Tala to seek help and report the incident. The military called the police and requested their assistance.  The police eventually arrested Bugnot at their house in San Andres.

At around 4:00pm, Danny Boy with some military personnel went to the crime scene. There they met the police and saw the dead body of Elisa lying on the ground.

Elisa suffered gunshot wounds in the nape, mouth, left eye and left thigh.

Additional Information:

Motive of the Killing

Elisa and her clan had long been receiving death threats and harassment from paid goons of influential claimants. Influential landlord-claimants have long targeted this public land and have continuously deceived the farmers that they are the real landowners.

According to the staff of the Quezon Association for Rural Development and Democratization Services (QUARDDS), Elisa together with farmer groups has a longstanding dispute with an alleged land grabber named Edwin Ausa and his trustee Rannie Bugnot.

It started when Edwin and Elisa had a confrontation in a meeting at the DENR office to recognize their land rights. Elisa together with other farmers submitted documents and proof that they were the ones who developed and improved the land they tilled. On the other hand, Edwin submitted none but insisted that the land is supposedly owned by their clan. Embarrassed of not having evidence of his claim, he started to threaten Elisa and her colleagues.

In 2012, Elisa filed a complaint before the Barangay Council against Edwin Ausa, Rannie Bugnot, et al., when the group took the coconuts cultivated by Elisa’s family without consent.

In the same year, Edwin harassed Elisa’s family when he filed criminal charges against her father Guillermo Castanas Guinoo, 72, for grave threats. Guillermo was detained and eventually released due to his old age.

Since then, Elisa received a number of death threats from Edwin and his group. He told the Tulids that he will kill all of them if they still remain and continue fighting for the land which they (Tulids) developed and improved.

Hours before the killing of Elisa, residents spotted Edwin and Sonny Hanabahab on a motorcycle and carrying a bag apparently with a hard object inside suspiciously go towards Barangay Tala where Rannie resides.

Although there is yet no evidence for the actual participation linking Edwin Ausa to the killing of Elisa, the people claimed and stressed that he has something to do with the case, and since Elisa and other farmers were continuously threatened and coerced by Edwin and his group.

Current Situation of Family Members

Elisa’s husband Danny Boy together with four (4) others is presently staying at the house of his brother in the nearby municipality.

Elisa’s youngest daughter Melanie, 4, is possibly experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. Family members often observe that the child instantly panics and gets frightened whenever she hears a firecracker or loud noise from things that fall or drop. Melanie wakes up in the middle of her sleep crying. She often cries out the name of her mother.

Danny Boy on the other hand looks anxious and fearful.

Land Dispute Backgrounder

Bondoc Peninsula lies at the southern tip of Southern Tagalog, 222,254 hectares in size, with 355,158 population and 70,688 households. Eighty percent of the households there were into subsistence farming (mostly coconut and banana monocropping) and fishing.

There exists a persistent feudal exploitation brought about by an extreme insufficiency of information on basic rights of tenants and an absence of viable mechanisms for resolving agrarian reform-related conflict.

Domingo Reyes is one of the biggest landholdings in Bondoc Peninsula with family holdings estimated at 12,000 to 16,000 hectares in three municipalities (Buenavista, San Narciso and San Andres, consisting of 10 barangays and 30 sub-villages).  Before 1996, not a single hectare was included in the agrarian reform program because of the landowner’s “fearsome reputation.” Out of fear, not one tenant wanted to apply for agrarian reform coverage. Tightly guarded, the lands are hard to penetrate.   A sharing of 60-40 prevails in the Villa Reyes property where 60% of the total harvest goes to the landowner, while the tenant shoulders the production expenses.

In 2004, the settlers filed a petition that they should be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The farmer-tenants started to boycott and stopped giving the 60% share of harvest to the Reyes clan after Elisa and other settlers learned from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that portions of the land claimed by Reyes were declared as public land. The DENR also certified these lands as timberland (2005-2006).

Elisa was in the forefront of the struggle of the land occupants to take possession of the government land through the process set forth by the DENR.

Theories have surfaced that the gunman Rannie Bugnot and Edwin Ausa are both henchmen of the Reyes clan. Farmers alleged that since they learned that the land claimed by the Reyes are alienable and disposable public lands, also considering the farmer-settlers’ application to acquire the land is underway, Reyes’ has no other option but to acquire the service of these henchmen by giving them a ‘fair share’ of the land, just to sow terror in the community so that farmers will discontinue their land right claims and eventually leave the land they currently are in possession.

REQUESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into the case of the brutal murder of Elisa Lascoña Tulid. Likewise, urge concerned agencies to immediately resolve the land conflict.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ____________,

I am writing to draw your attention regarding a female human rights defender in the agrarian reform sector and leader of the peasant group Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Barangay Tala at Camflora, who was murdered on October 19, 2013, at 2:00pm in Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province. Elisa L. Tulid, 37, of Sitio Kabulihan Barangay Tala, was shot point-blank by a certain Rannie Bugnot, and was pronounced dead on the spot.

I have learned that Elisa was in the forefront of the struggle of the land occupants to take possession of the government land through the process set forth by the land and environment agencies such as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

I have also learned that Elisa, her family and other farmers had long been receiving death threats and harassment from paid goons of influential land claimants.

It was also brought to my attention that Elisa together with farmer groups has a longstanding dispute with an alleged land grabber named Edwin Ausa and his trustee Rannie Bugnot (the gunman). Theories have also surfaced that the gunman Rannie Bugnot and Edwin Ausa are both henchmen of the Reyes clan who owns one of the biggest landholdings inBondoc Peninsula with family holdings estimated at 12,000 to 16,000 hectares in three municipalities such as Buenavista, San Narciso and San Andres, consisting of 10 barangays and 30 sub-villages.

At present, Elisa’s youngest daughter Melanie, 4, is possibly experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. According to family members, they observe that the child instantly panics and gets frightened whenever she hears a firecracker or loud noise. They often see Melanie when she wakes up, in the middle of her sleep, crying. Also, she often cries out the name of her mother.

Therefore, I humbly urge you to initiate a probe into the brutal murder of Elisa L. Tulid and that government authorities ensure no repeat of such incident. I urge authorities to probe deeply into the link of the alleged gunman with interest groups including a certain Edwin Ausa and the Reyes clan.

Also, we would like to appeal that the government should recognize the initiatives of farmers in observing the agrarian reform processes and to immediately resolve the land dispute.

I look forward to you urgent action is this case.

Respectfully yours,

_________________________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

Please send your letters to:

1.    Hon. Benigno Simeon Aquino III

President

Republic of the Philippines

Malacanang Palace

JP Laurel Street, San Miguel

Manila 1005

Philippines

Fax: +63 2 736 1010

Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

2.    Secretary Virgilio R. Delos Reyes

Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)

Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City

Philippines

Fax: +63 2 920 0380

Tel:  +63 2 929 3460; 928 7031, Local 401

e-mail: secretary@dar.gov.ph / gildlr2010@gmail.com

3.    Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Visayas Avenue, Diliman,

Quezon City 1100

Philippines

Tel. No. 920-4352, 926-2688,

926-2535, 925-2329

Fax No. 920-4301

Trunkline No. 929-6626 Local 2258, 2272, 2146

Email: osec@denr.gov.ph

4.    Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue

U.P. Complex, Diliman

Quezon City

Philippines

Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188

Fax: +63 2929 0102

Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

5.   Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima

Chief, Philippine National Police

Camp General Rafael Crame

Quezon City, Philippines

Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401

Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763

Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

 

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[Solidarity] BANGLADESH: Alarming escalation of threats to human rights defenders -The Observatory

BANGLADESH: Alarming escalation of threats to human rights defenders

Publication of an international fact-finding mission report

Paris-Geneva, November 9, 2013 -As two members of prominent human rights NGO Odhikar will face trial tomorrow in Dhaka in relation to their human rights activities, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, publishes today an international mission report on the situation of human rights defenders in Bangladesh.

OBS1

In Bangladesh, the authorities resort to a legal arsenal and restrictive practices to prosecute and pressure human rights defenders, who face physical attacks, arbitrary detention and judicial harassment.

“NGO activists, lawyers, journalists and trade unionists trying to defend the victims of human rights violations remain inadequately protected and suffer repression for carrying out legitimate activities under international law”, said Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “ Presently, two members of Odhikar, a respected human rights NGO, are facing judicial harassment for publishing a report on police repression ”, he added.

Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar and a member of the General Assembly of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), whose trial will resume tomorrow, was detained from August 10 to October 11, 2013. Mr. Nasiruddin Elan, Director of Odhikar, was sent to prison on November 6. Both have been harassed after Odhikar published a report on the repression of a demonstration of fundamentalists by the police last May.

In Bangladesh, the political atmosphere is fundamentally polarised, and the situation is becoming increasingly tensed in the lead-up to the general elections due to take place before the end of January 2014.

“We are alarmed over the present situation and the risk of further repression of human rights defenders in the upcoming pre-election context. Human rights work is in the inherent interest of any nation, no matter who the victim may be. This voice needs to be heard even in times of political tension”, declared Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of OMCT. “There is a heavy burden on all actors, State authorities, political parties and the media alike, to withstand the temptation of labelling human rights defenders as pro-government or anti-government, depending on whom they criticise or which party is in power”, he added.

The trade union environment is also generally polarised along party lines, and the few independent unions that exist face obstacles to their work, including daily harassment by the authorities. The enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killing of labour leader and human rights defender Aminul Islam in 2012 reminded the international community and human rights defenders on the ground how risky independent labour rights activities could be in Bangladesh. Authorities failed to launch any effective investigation about his assassination.

The Observatory concludes that as long as corruption is not curbed, and in the absence of a peaceful and constructive political environment, of legislation promoting human rights and of an independent judiciary, abuses of power and arbitrary practices will continue. These make the exercise of fundamental freedoms more difficult, hinder the strengthening of an independent civil society, and maintain human rights defenders in the trap of a disabling environment.

The Observatory Mission Report, titled “Human rights defenders trapped in a polarised political environment ”, outlines recommendations to the Bangladeshi authorities, the United Nations, the European Union and other foreign diplomacies. The report is available here:

Click to access obs_rapportbangladeshuk-ld.pdf


Click to access bangladesh_obs_mission_report.pdf

For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Audrey Couprie/Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 25 18
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39

PRESS RELEASE – THE OBSERVATORY

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[Appeal] Open Letter to candidates to the (U.N.) Human Rights Council

UNHRC file photo source indiadaily.org

 

Open Letter to candidates to the Human Rights Council

 

 

 

Excellency,

 

 

 

We are a diverse group of nongovernmental organisations from all parts of the world who have
contributed to the Human Rights Council (the Council) and its work since its establishment. We
write to you regarding your candidacy for membership of the Council.

 

 

 

 

UNHRC file photo source indiadaily.org

UNHRC. file photo source indiadaily.org

 

 

 

In establishing the Council in 2006, the General Assembly provided that Council members “shall
uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “fully
cooperate with the Council” (GA Resolution 60/251).

 

 

 

We are concerned about the clear failure of some candidates to fully comply with these criteria.
Failure by Council members to take effective measures to address violations of human rights for
which they are responsible, particularly of a gross or systematic nature, or to fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms undermines the ability of the Council to promote and protect
human rights and to demand full state cooperation with its mechanisms. While this letter focuses
on three important requirements that help measure candidate’s suitability as a Human Rights
Council member, a more detailed assessment of each candidate’s record in the promotion and
protection of human rights and cooperation with the Human Rights Council must be made on a
case-by-case basis by members of the General Assembly before they cast their votes. This
should also include consideration of the level of ratification of core international human rights
treaties.

 

 

 

We are also concerned at the failure of some candidates to respect and support the important
role played by civil society, non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders in the
promotion and protection of human rights at the national and international levels, including in the Council (Article 38 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, GA Resolution 60/251
and the Human Rights Council’s Institution Building Package).

 

 

 

We expand on each of these areas of concern below.

 

 

 

Cooperation with Special Procedures

 

 

 

As a candidate, it is incumbent on every State to set an example by cooperating fully with the
Council’s human rights mechanisms, in particular by:

 

 

 

1. Issuing and honouring an effective standing invitation to the Special Procedures. This
requires responding promptly to all requests for visits by providing one or more sets of
specific possible dates within two months, and facilitating such visits in accordance with the
Terms of Reference on Fact-finding Missions by Special Procedures.

 

 

 

2. Acting responsibly and respectfully in relations with Special Procedures and refraining from all attempts, by word or action, to interfere with the independence of mandate holders or to
otherwise undermine their work;

 

 

 

3. Regularly providing information to the Special Procedures and to the Human Rights Council
on how the recommendations arising from country visits have been implemented, and any
obstacles to implementation;

 

 

 

4. Responding promptly and substantively to urgent appeals and to letters of allegations by
Special Procedures, taking into account the urgency of the communication; and

 

 

 

5. Supporting the creation of a mechanism to review and assess, on an annual basis, the
degree of cooperation with the Council and the Special Procedures, both in relation to Council
members and candidates for Council membership.

 

 

 

Reprisals and intimidation

 

 

 

We are also gravely concerned about acts of intimidation and reprisals against individuals and
groups who seek to cooperate, have cooperated, or cooperate with the UN human rights system,
including the Council, as well as against relatives of victims of human rights violations or those who have provided legal or other assistance to victims. Such intimidation or reprisals may take the form of smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, prosecutions, direct threats, physical attacks and killings.

 

 

 

As the Council depends heavily on the free and safe cooperation of human rights defenders for
its effective functioning, it has a concomitant duty to prevent and immediately respond to threats and reprisals against those who cooperate with it. The Council took a significant step at its 24th session to safeguard the vital collaboration between human rights defenders and the UN rights mechanisms through the call for the creation of a senior focal point to work to prevent, protect against and seek accountability for reprisals and intimidation against persons who cooperate with the United Nations (HRC/RES/24/24). While we welcome this development, ending reprisals and intimidation requires continued action and responses by all stakeholders. In particular, each candidate should:

 

 

 

1. Cooperate fully with the focal point once established;
2. Take positive steps to facilitate safe and unimpeded access to the UN human rights
mechanisms by all individuals and groups, and in particular human rights defenders;
3. Take all necessary measures to prevent intimidation and reprisals against human rights
defenders and take appropriate action to provide remedies for all acts of intimidation and
reprisals;
4. Inform the Council through its President and on an ongoing basis of steps taken to protect
individuals mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report on reprisals and to provide remedies,
reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence;
5. Support recent initiatives by the President of the Council calling on States to immediately put
an end to intimidation and harassment of individuals and groups cooperating or seeking to
cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms;
6. Commit to and call for enhanced monitoring and action by the Council. Consider the
development of an online and regularly updated registry of allegations of intimidation and
reprisals, as proposed by several of the panellists during the Council’s panel on reprisals;
7. Maintain pressure on States that commit or tolerate reprisals, including by using bilateral and multilateral dialogue to raise cases of intimidation or reprisals as documented in the
Secretary-General’s report and discussing follow-up;
8. Prioritise protection for all human rights defenders including those who cooperate with the
UN, through missions in Geneva and embassies around the world. This should be done in close coordination with all stakeholders involved in protecting human rights defenders,
including the UN, regional and national actors;
9. Consider establishing focal points at the national level to address acts of intimidation and
reprisals;
10. Review and where necessary change legislation, policies and practices that have the effect of
undermining unhindered access to and communication with international human rights bodies
and mechanisms and avoid adopting any such new legislation; and
11. Prevent the occurrence of intimidation or reprisals, including, where necessary, by developing and implementing specific legislation and policies and by issuing appropriate guidance to national authorities.

 

 

 

Respect for effective civil society participation

 

 

 

Human rights defenders and independent civil society play a critical role in promoting human
rights, development and the rule of law (HRC/RES/24/21) and related accountability measures.
Free and vibrant civil society participation at all levels is therefore essential, including at the local, national, regional and international levels. This implies that each candidate should:

 

 

 

1. Ensure that domestic legal and administrative provisions and their application facilitate,
promote and protect an independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society; and
2. Support the full and effective participation of civil society in the work of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council in particular, including by guaranteeing right of everyone,
individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with
the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms.
Your Excellency, we urge you to consider the above mentioned elements in the pursuit of your
country’s candidacy for membership on the Human Rights Council and would very much welcome
your response to these recommendations at your earliest convenience.

 

 

 

Yours sincerely,
Philip Lynch
Director – International Service for Human Rights

 

 

 

On behalf of
1. Action Canada for Population and Development
2. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies
3. Amnesty International
4. ARC International
5. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
7. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
8. Center for Reproductive Rights
9. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
10. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
11. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
12. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
13. Fondazione Marista per la Solidarieta Internazionale ONLUS
14. Franciscans International
15. Front Line Defenders
16. GAYa NUSANTARA
17. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
18. Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
19. Human Rights Watch
20. International Association for Catholic Education
21. International Catholic Child Bureau
22. International Commission of Jurists
23. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
24. International Federation of University Women (IFUW)
25. International Lesbian and Gay Association
26. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
27. International Service for Human Rights
28. KIFKIF LGBT GROUP
29. Lutheran World Federation
30. Matrix Support Group
31. Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
32. Pax Christi International
33. Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO
34. Public Union of Democracy and Human Rights Resource Centre
35. Rainbow-Ethiopia HIV and Media Initiative (REHMI)
36. Red Nacional de Promoción de la Mujer, RNPM-Perú
37. Russian Research Center for Human Rights
38. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights
39. World Federation of United Nations Associations
40. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

 

 

 

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