Tag Archives: Human Rights Violations

[Press Release] New Police Chief Should Tackle Abuses Action Needed on Torture, Extrajudicial Killings -HRW

Philippines: New Police Chief Should Tackle Abuses
Action Needed on Torture, Extrajudicial Killings

(Manila, Sept. 2, 2015) – The Philippine National Police should hold to account all police officers responsible for human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the police chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez. President Benigno Aquino III appointed Marquez to the position on July 14, 2015.

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“Police chief Marquez has the opportunity to turn the Philippine National Police into a rights-respecting, professional organization,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “He has the duty and the responsibility to make sure that the national police meets its domestic and international human rights obligations.”

Marquez should ensure prompt, transparent, and impartial investigations of alleged police abuses, and take appropriate action against those responsible, regardless of rank, Human Rights Watch said. National police personnel have long been implicated in numerous human rights violations includingtorture and extrajudicial killings.

Task Force Usig, created by the Philippine National Police in 2006 to investigate the extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists, has only secured 9 convictions out of the 181 cases it has documented since 2001. Marquez should direct the task force to improve its investigation and documentation of cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, Human Rights Watch said.  The task force should submit a regular – preferably monthly – progress report on the status of these cases.

Marquez should address the country’s epidemic of extrajudicial killings by acting on the recommendations of the May 2014 Human Rights Watch report on summary killings in Tagum City in Mindanao. Specific police officers assigned to the Tagum City police were identified as complicit in the operation and control of the so-called “Tagum Death Squad.” Marquez should reform the national police’s Human Rights Affairs Office, which has failed in its role as a monitor for police human rights violations.

“Marquez urgently needs to tackle the problem of rampant human rights abuses by the Philippine National Police,” Kine said. “It’s in his hands whether the police can transform itself from predator to protector of the people.”

For Immediate Release
http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/01/philippines-new-police-chief-should-tackle-abuses

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[From the web] Fast-Track Congress Probe on Rights Abuses Congressional Delays Symbolize Failure to Tackle Impunity -HRW

Philippines: Fast-Track Congress Probe on Rights Abuses
Congressional Delays Symbolize Failure to Tackle Impunity

(Manila, August 12, 2015) – The Philippine House of Representatives should fast-track its investigations of alleged human rights abuses by state security forces, Human Rights Watch said today. Congress is only now acting on the 22 resolutions that legislators have filed with its Committee on Human Rights since 2013 that call for investigation of specific allegations of human rights violations by the military and police.

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Congress is convening on August 13 and 14, 2015, an “initial omnibus legislative inquiry” into human rights abuses that is designed to jumpstart congressional attention to those resolutions. The inquiry, which will gather more information about the cases in each resolution by interviewing victims and witnesses, will take place on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao where many of the alleged human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, have occurred.

The inquiry will result in a report detailing its findings and recommendations that it will then submit to Congress. It can recommend the filing of cases before the courts or the Office of the Ombudsman, which is empowered to pursue separate investigations and prosecutions of human rights-related cases. Congress must initiate these proceedings before it adjourns in June 2016 or it will have to refile the resolutions and start all over again.

“Years of apathy by the Philippine Congress toward human rights violations by security forces just makes it easier for perpetrators of abuses to literally get away with murder,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The House of Representatives can and should send a powerful message against impunity by making this week’s inquiry in Mindanao an opportunity to jumpstart long-overdue congressional scrutiny of serious human rights abuses.”

The majority of the 22 human rights abuse-related resolutions filed before Congress by various legislators since 2013 call for investigation of specific allegations of human rights violations by the military and police. Three privilege speeches were also delivered by different representatives, all calling for congressional investigation of these cases.

The outstanding congressional resolutions on alleged human rights abuses by elements of the security forces relate to cases that include killings on:

July 3, 2012, of Wilhemus Johannes Geertman, a Dutch missionary in Pampanga province;
August 26, 2013, of anti-mining activists Anting Freay and his 16-year-old son Victor in Davao del Sur;
December 6, 2013, of tribal leader Pedro Tinga in Compostela Valley province;
March 15, 2014, of Romeo Capalla, a former political prisoner and fair-trade activist in Panay province; and
March 26, 2014, of human rights defender William Bugatti in Ifugao province.

Separate congressional resolutions since 2013 have also called for the investigation into the torture of detainees at a police facility in Laguna, as well as the harassment of members of grassroots groups such as Pamalakaya, which represents small-scale fisherman known as “municipal fisherfolk.” Two other resolutions call for investigations into the enforced disappearance on August 21, 2013, of Bryan Epa, an organizer for Katribu, an indigenous peoples group, and Benjamin Villeno, a coordinator for the leftist political party Bayan Muna.

Legislators have also issued resolutions looking into alleged cases of children falsely accused by the military of being child soldiers. They also want to investigate the so-called Tagum Death Squad, which was allegedly financed and controlled by police and local government officials.

Calls for accountability by government officials have not brought an end to the extrajudicial killing of activists and journalists, torture, or enforced disappearances. Although the number of such cases has decreased since 2010, when President Benigno Aquino III took office, they still occur fairly frequently. President Aquino had made several commitments in the past to address these abuses, but his administration has to date produced few significant results.

A “superbody” that Aquino created in 2012 to resolve extrajudicial killings has not made significant progress, Human Rights Watch said. Torture by the police and other security forces remains routine and elements of the military continue to be implicated in serious abuses. Police have been linked to summary killings, particularly “death squad” operations carried out in complicity with local officials in Tagum City and other urban areas.

“Congress needs to demonstrate that it’s on the side of rule of law and the victims of human rights violations by supporting thorough and transparent investigations into such abuses,” Kine said. “Congress can show that it’s serious about tackling impunity by fast-tracking investigations into alleged human rights abuses and supporting the congressional inquiry in Davao City.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Philippines, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/philippines

https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/08/12/philippines-fast-track-congress-probe-rights-abuses

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[Statement] Five years of Aquino’s straight path led Filipino workers into poverty, deaths, rights violations -CTUHR

STATEMENT

25 July 2015

Five years of Aquino’s straight path led Filipino workers into poverty, deaths, rights violations

Five years of Benigno Aquino III’s “daang matuwid” led Filipinos into a road where beggars and cadavers are scattered due to policies that kept more Filipinos mired in poverty at the same intensifying attacks on trade union and human rights.

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Since Aquino took office in July 2015, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) recorded 554 cases of trade union and human rights violations. Contrary to Aquino’s promise to end human rights killings, there were 24 victims of extra-judicial killings among the workers and the urban poor. Most recent case of EJK within the labor sector was last March 8, 2015, when Florencio “Bong” Romano, an organizer of Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (OLALIA) and a provincial coordinator of the National Coalition for the Protection of Worker’s Rights-Southern Tagalog (NCPWR-ST), was killed. “Ka-Bong” actively participated in the campaign to regularize contractual workers before his dead body was found shot in the chest one morning at Brgy. Soro-Soro, Batangas City.

Workers were burdened not only by mounting pressure from work but were also met with heightened political repression. Cases of harassment, fabrication of criminal charges, detention, and physical assault, totaling to 1,650 recorded victims from 2010 to 2015.

Harassment of trade unions intensified this 2015 as the military desperately seeks to fulfill its target under Oplan Bayanihan, Aquino’s notoriously deceitful counter-insurgency program. At least 32 individuals (leaders, members, staffs and advisers) from the Confederation for Unity Recognition Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) alongside other activists were threatened, intimidated, and put under surveillance by military agents starting April this year.

In the last five years, 290 trade unionists and labor activists were slapped with fabricated criminal charges from petty crimes like stealing to more serious offenses maliciously linked to armed operations of the New People’s Army (NPA) like robbery in band, possession of illegal explosives, and frustrated murder.

Collusion of state and capitalist

Workers holding peaceful and legitimate protests were suppressed with iron hands as demonstrated by the violent dispersals and physical assaults inflicted by “hired goons” of Lucio Tan on Tanduay Distillers Inc. workers. The series of violent dispersals from May 18 to 22 led to 68 injured workers and two others detained. Despite workers plea for help, police and authorities remained as bystanders while goons were beating Tanduay legitimate workers and their supporters. Clearly, these actions violate the workers’ right to peacefully assemble and right to redress. Tanduay workers are struggling to be recognized as permanent workers which the company continue to deny despite the workers’ three to11 years of service as contractual workers.

The Aquino regime fostered conditions hostile to unions as shown by 27 cases discrimination against trade unionists, and 43 cases of union busting and 47 cases of harassment of unionists in the workplace Unionization rate remains very low at 8.6 percent of to total wage workers or roughly only 1.95 million out of the total 22.64 million wage workers as of June 2015. Of this unionized workers, only 202,517 are covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as of June 2015 leaving more than 20 million wage workers virtually at the mercy of their employers, powerless to negotiate better wages and benefits. . Thus, government and employer propaganda that wage increase can happen through CBA negotiation is is plainly ridiculous, a wicked slap on the face of minimum wage earners.

Even with this low unionization rate and a tiny number of workers covered by CBAs, there were still 152 combined cases of violations of the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining affecting over 11,000 workers from 2010 to 2015. In the last five years, capitalists became much bolder to deny this right as the number of unions shrinks and ability to effect demands weakens.

Aquino’s policy to increase labor flexibility relentlessly attacked workers right to security of tenure as cases of retrenchment and illegal dismissals become rampant thereby bloating the number of unemployed and workers in precarious jobs. The cases of outsourcing of Philippine Airlines in 2010, the massive retrenchment of thousands of workers in Hoya Glass Disk and Carina Apparel last year dismissal of over 200 GMA Network employees (editors, cameramen, mediaworkers, etc.) who served the network from a range of 2 to 18 years are few cases in point. Four years of implementation since 2011, DOLE Department Order 18-A s2011 ably facilitated the rapid erosion of workers’ right to security of tenure, aiding the destruction of regular jobs while boosting short-term or contractual employment. In Tanduay for example, workers were forced to sign a one-year service agreement after many years in service to the company–those who refused were dismissed. DOLE DO 18-A is being used by labor contractors to legalize unjust contracting out practices, divesting principal employers of their responsibility to the workers.

Under Aquino, the public witnessed the deaths of at least 206 workers in 34 workplace accidents as in the case of Kentex factory fire last May 13, where 74 workers (45 were women) were burned to death in the worst factory fire in thehistory of Philippine industries. Last July 18, nine workers in Semirara Coal Mining, a company that uses open-pit mining, in Antique were buried alive from erosion of 500 tons of soil. . Prior to these,there were 11 Eton workers who died instantly when the gondola they were riding collapsed, 17 women workers in Novo Jeans burned to death , 3 septic tank workers trapped, 5 Keppel workers were crushed to death when the foundation of a stern ramp to a docked ship collapsed. All these deaths could have been avoided if capitalists and and Department of Labor and Employment had not only look at productivity and profit and if implementation of occupational safety and health standards are stricter and government had not left this to company’s voluntary compliance. DO 57-04 and DOLE’s Department Order 131-13 that replaced it failed miserably.

Enriching the few by impoverishing the poor majority

Aquino’s government has been trying to convince the Filipino people of the promise of sustained economic growth. But growth for whom? The disparity between the rich and the poor had only widened as wages were kept depressed and dragged further down by the two-tier wage system which replaces “minimum wage” with a “floor wage” that is largely pegged to the poverty threshold of 1.25 USD a day. At present, the highest minimum wage of P481, which does not even come close to the cost of everyday living for an averaged Filipino family of six which is P1,088 a day. In other regions, real wages have fallen by as much as 21 percent. Even then, an outstanding 46 percent of the nation’s workers are still paid under the minimum wage. This puts to shame AYALA, Corp. net income of 14.8 Billion Php for the year 2014 alone.

Joblessness and precarity continue to hound millions of Filipino workers with unemployment in the country still among the highest in the ASEAN region for the past five years despite the much-touted “robust” economy. It seems that economic growth to Aquino is 15.8 million Filipino unemployed and 7 out of 10 workers in precarious (contractual or informal) employment. The government’s labor export policy continue to push Filipinos to seek employment abroad as exposed by the the number of OFWs deployed yearly outpacing the the number of job opportunities within the country.

Clearly, Aquino’s “tuwid na daan” has led Filipinos to deepened poverty and suffering. But BS Aquino’s last state of the nation address (SONA) draws near and his “daang matuwid” reaches its dead-end, the Filipinos are now ready themselves to corner and collect a president’s five-year debts.

For reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +63.2.4110256; +63.916.248.4876

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[From the web] New technologies –if used right– are vital tools in the fight against human rights violations -OHCHR

New technologies –if used right– are vital tools in the fight against human rights violations

GENEVA (19 June 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Christof Heyns, has called on the UN system and other international human rights bodies to “catch up” with rapidly developing innovations in human rights fact-finding and investigations. “The digital age presents challenges that can only be met through the smart use of digital tools,” he said.

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In his latest report to the Human Rights Council, Mr. Heyns highlighted that information and communication technologies (ICTs) —the hardware and software that produce and transmit information in the digital space— can play an increasing role in the protection of all human rights, including the right to life, by reinforcing the role of ‘civilian witnesses’ in documenting rights violations.

“We have all seen how the actions of police officers and other who use excessive force are captured on cell phones and lead to action against the perpetrators. Billions of people around the world carry a powerful weapon to capture such events in their pockets,” the expert said. “The fact that this is well-known can be a significant deterrent to abuses.”

The expert described in his report how various organizations are developing alert applications that journalists, human rights defenders and others can use to send an emergency message (along with GPS co-ordinates) to their friends and colleagues if they feel in immediate danger.

“New information tools can also empower human rights investigations and help to foster accountability where people have lost their lives or were seriously injured,” the Special Rapporteur noted.

The use of other video technologies, ranging from CCTV cameras to body-worn “cop cams” can further contribute to filling information gaps. The use of resources such as satellite imagery to verify such videos, or sometime to show evidence of violations themselves, is also an important dimension.

However, despite the many advantages offered by ICTS for the protection of human rights, Mr. Heyns also warned that it will be short-sighted not to see the risks. “Those with the power to violate human rights can easily use peoples’ emails and other communications to target them and also to violate their privacy,” he said.

The human rights expert also noted that the fact that people can use social media to organise spontaneous protests can lead authorities to perceive a threat – and to over-react.

Moreover, there is a danger that what is not captured on video is not taken seriously. “We must guard against a mind-set that ‘if it is not digital it did not happen,’” he stressed.

In his report, Mr. Heyns also cautioned that not all communities, and not all parts of the world, are equally connected, and draws special attention to the fact that “the ones that not connected are often in special need of protection.”

“There is still a long way to go for all of us to understand fully how we can use these evolving and exciting but in some ways also scary new tools to their best effect,” the expert stated, noting that not all parts of the international human rights community are fully aware of the power and pitfalls of digital fact-finding.

The Special Rapporteur made several recommendations in his report, including that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights appoints as soon as possible a specialist in digital evidence to assist it in making the best use of ICTs.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/29/37

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (South Africa), is a director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 9635 / bvukovic@ohchr.org) or write to eje@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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[Call for endorsement] Asia Pacific Civil Society’s Demands for the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

Unity Statement

Asia Pacific Civil Society’s Demands for the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

This statement originates from the Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, May 1-3, 2015 Chiang Mai, Thailand, co-convened by the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD)

WE, the undersigned members of Asia Pacific civil society, representing different constituencies, movements and organisations, recognize, experience, and resist the human rights violations committed by transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business entities.

We strongly protest the impact of direct and indirect violations by TNCs and other business entities, which destroy lives, cultures, livelihoods, the environment, and profoundly affect women, children, peasants, workers, and indigenous peoples.

We welcome UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/91, which mandates an intergovernmental working group to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

We collectively unite to demand corporate accountability for human rights violations and to redress the grave imbalance between corporate power and the power of people.

We strongly demand that our governments protect, respect and fulfil human rights and commit to enact effective laws for corporate accountability. We encourage all governments to actively participate in the development of a legally binding treaty on business and human rights in the UN Human Rights Council.

As peoples and CSOs, we demand an end to the human rights violations perpetrated with impunity by TNCs and other business entities, often with the complicity or inaction of States.

We make the following demands for a legally binding treaty:

  • The adoption of an expansive definition of transnational corporations which encompasses parent companies, subsidiaries and contractors and ensures comprehensive supply chain accountability.
  • No corporate participation in the process of elaborating and adopting the treaty. The private sector has actively resisted legal accountability for the impact of its actions and
  • The inclusion of a provision that explicitly prohibits corporate capture of political processes, including collusion and complicity between governments and corporate actors. At a minimum, this should take the form of a requirement that there is no conflict of interest in government approval of corporate sector projects;
  • The inclusion of a provision requiring transparency and financial disclosure from transnational corporations that should be made available to the public consistent with the public right to access information regarding private operations that have public impact, including for projects financed by international financial institutions;
  • An end to impunity for the human rights violations caused by transnational corporations, including but not limited to providing for criminal liability for corporations, their employees, and governments and public officials complicit in the unlawful activity of transnational corporations;
  • Accountability for the direct, indirect, short-term and long-term impacts of corporate activity, including remote, “down-stream”, or cumulative negative impacts;
  • Affirmation of the primacy of governments’ human rights obligations under the UN Charter and international treaties and customary laws over obligations in trade and investment agreements.
  • A rejection of coercive enforcement mechanisms under trade and investment agreements which are incompatible with the human rights obligations of governments, including Investor-State Dispute Settlement.
  • Provisions should be progressive and ensure no regression from existing international human rights standards, including core ILO Conventions and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which recognizes the entitlement of women to substantive equality with men;
  • The inclusion of provisions recognizing the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) as a corollary of their internationally-recognized right to selfdetermination; for non-indigenous peoples, consent must be secured through a direct and participatory process of consultation that respects the right to participation.
  • An explicit prohibition of government or corporate retaliation against human rights defenders, in line with the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, including through the suppression of protests, surveillance, and other forms of intimidation and harm, noting the specific vulnerabilities of women human rights defenders, which requires sensitivity to the particular pressures and challenges that they face including sexual harassment and intimidation and criminalisation.”
  • An explicit prohibition of the use of State security, military or paramilitary forces to secure corporate projects.
  • The establishment of an international tribunal or mechanism to receive, investigate, and adjudicate complaints of human rights violations committed by TNCs. The decisions of this mechanism should be based on the obligations of governments and businesses in relation to international human rights standards and gender equality and should be legally binding.

Agreed on by the undersigned members of Asia Pacific civil society.

Endorsed by:

SENTRO ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Philippines

Tebtebba – Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education,
Philippines

International Rivers, International

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Philippines

Asha Parivar, India

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India

Socialist Party of India

National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Sri Lanka

Citizen News Service (CNS), India

IBON International, International

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand

Pesticide Action Network- Asia and the Pacific (PANAP), Malaysia

Community Resource Centre (CRC), Thailand

The Philippinne Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippines

Indonesia for Global Justice, Indonesia

Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), Cambodia

POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), India

Tavoyan Women’s Union, Cambodia

Solidaritus Perempuan (SP), Indonesia

Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women), Philippines

Tanggol Kalikasan, Philippines

Center for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia

Shwe Gas Movement (SGM), Cambodia

Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Leitana Neihan Women’s Development Agency (LNWDA), Papua New Guinea

The online endorsement form is available here:

http://eepurl.com/bqUgqz

as well as here:

Unity Statement: Asia Pacific Civil Society’s Demands for the Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

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[From the web] ASEAN and AICHR: End Enforced Disappearance in Southeast Asia!-Focus on the Global South

On 24th April 2015 at the ASEAN Peoples Forum in Kuala Lumpur, NGOs (including Focus on the Global South), CSOs and ASEAN People organized a workshop on Enforced Disappearance in ASEAN to raise awareness of the barriers victims face in accessing justice and the mechanisms ASEAN can use to stop enforced disappearances.

Photos from Focus on the Global South website

Photos from Focus on the Global South website

Below is the statement signed by individuals and organizations and sent to ASEAN / AICHR (ASEAN Intergovenmental Commission on Human Rights), urging them to address this pressing matter and take into account the recommendations to end enforced disappearance in ASEAN.

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ASEAN and AICHR: End Enforced Disappearance in Southeast Asia!

ASEAN People’s Forum 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

24 April, 2015

Enforced disappearances continue to occur unabated in most ASEAN member countries and illustrate an alarming and worrisome pattern of human rights violations that target citizens, community leaders, human rights defenders, environmental and student activists, and even children.

In all cases of enforced disappearance, government and law enforcement authorities, the military and other state agents have denied knowledge of the crime and the victims’ fate or whereabouts. Governments have failed to conduct thorough, credible, and impartial investigations into these disappearances and bring perpetrators to justice. In most cases, evidence suggests direct involvement, complicity, or acquiescence of government security forces (military, police, and other state agents) in the actual disappearance as well as covering up the crime.

The families of the victims suffer tremendous mental anguish, not knowing the conditions of their loved ones and even whether they are alive or dead. Enforced disappearance results in psychological trauma, tremendous economic and social dislocation, and fragmentation within families. It is also used as a weapon to spread fear in society and to silence those who raise questions about human rights violations.  Fear and insecurity among families and acquaintances of the disappeared make it difficult to accurately document cases of enforced disappearance, as well gather crucial evidence to ensure the safe return of victims and punishment of the perpetrators.

Report of the Working Group on Enforced of Involuntary Disappearance 2014 in seven ASEAN countries:

Country: Number of Cases

PHILIPPINES: 625
THAILAND: 81
INDONESIA: 163
CAMBODIA: 1
LAO PDR: 2
MYANMAR: 2
TIMOR LESTE: 428

The actual numbers of disappearances are unknown since many remain unreported by relatives and witnesses for fear of reprisal from state authorities, as well as a lack of national/international authorities to whom they can report such disappearances. A number of cases over the past ten years, however, have directed national and international attention towards enforced disappearances.

In the Philippines, a farmer and leading activist with the Alliance of Farmers in Bulacan Province, Mr. Jonas Burgos, was abducted by five unknown individuals on 28 April 2007 while having lunch alone at a restaurant inside a shopping mall. It was later determined by the Court of Appeals that the abduction of Jonas Burgos was a case of enforced disappearance. On 18 March 2013, Major Harry BaliagaJr. of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was positively identified by a witness as one of the perpetrators. The said officer was imprisoned, but then released on bail and promoted to lieutenant colonel. On 12 April 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the Philippine army’s Chief of Staff to disclose the whereabouts of the soldiers believed involved in the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, but the Philippine army has ignored the order and no one has been held accountable for the disappearance.

In Thailand, Mr.Somchai Neelapaijit, a prominent lawyer who defended the rights of mostly ethnic Malay Muslim in southern border provinces of Thailand, was abducted by police officials on 12th March 2004 on Ramkhamhaeng Road in Bangkok. On 12January 2006, a Bangkok criminal court convicted one police officer of a minor charge of coercion and sentenced him to three years in prison, but released him on bail.  On 11 March 2011, the Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of the police officer and upheld the acquittal of the other four. On 17 April 2014, Mr. Pholachi Rakchongcharoen, aka “Billy”, an activist promoting the rights to land of indigenous peoples, was arrested by the head of Kengkrachan National Park. One day later, the head of the national park confirmed that Billy had been detained for interrogation proposes and claimed that he had been released. However, no evidence has been provided confirming Billy’s release and nobody has seen him since.

In Kachin State in Northern Myanmar, Ms.Naw Sumlut Roi Ja,  an ethnic Kachin resident ofMomauk Township, was abducted by the Burmese army on 28 October 2011. Numerous petitions have been filed asking authorities to disclose SumlutRoiJa’s whereabouts and fate. Both military and civilian authorities have consistently refused to investigate Sumlut Roi Ja’s disappearance and prosecute the soldiers who abducted her.

On 23 January 2007, Mr. Sompawn Khantisouk, a well-known eco-tourism business owner in Luang Nam ThaProvince in the Lao PDR, was abducted in broad daylight by people in police uniforms. To date, the Lao government has not disclosed any information about what happened to him. Mr. Sombath Somphone, an eminent  Lao civil society leader and recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award was last seen on the evening of 15 December 2012 in Vientiane after traffic police stopped his vehicle, other persons without uniforms then drove him away in another vehicle.The events were recorded on CCTV. Despite claims that it is investigating Sombath’s disappearance, the Lao government has provided no meaningful information about the case.

Sixteen year-old Khem Sophath has been missing since 03 January 2014 when Cambodian security forces opened fire on striking garment factory workers near the Canadia Industrial Park in southwest Phnom Penh. In the crackdown, four workers were killed and 25 others suffered bullet wounds. Sophath was last seen on the morning of the events, his chest covered in blood, lying on the ground on VengSreng Road near the Canadia Industrial Park.

In Indonesia, Dedek Khairudin was taken from his home in PangkalanBrandan, North Sumatra, on 28 November 2013 by local military personnel. According to Dedek’s family, he was arrested and detained because the soldiers believed he knew of the whereabouts of a suspect who had allegedly stabbed a soldier.  The following day, 29 November, Dedek’s family visited the police and the military headquarters in PangkalanBrandan to inquire about his whereabouts, but the authorities denied having him in custody.

Enforced disappearance violates numerous internationally recognized human rights and, if part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population, is considered a crime against humanity.

It is regrettable and unacceptable that ASEAN member states have remained conspicuously silent with regard to enforced disappearance. Only three ASEAN governments have signed the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and only Cambodia has ratified it. The Philippines is the only ASEAN country with a domestic law criminalizing enforced disappearances. The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has no rules and mechanisms to receive and address complaints of enforced disappearance.

We urge ASEAN and AICHR to urgently:

Break the silence on enforced disappearance and take immediate actions to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Encourage all ASEAN governments to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, and; apply the treaty into their domestic legislation and criminalize enforced disappearance.
Conduct serious and full investigations in to cases of enforced disappearance; hold accountable and prosecute perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law, and; provide reparations and psychosocial support to the victims’ families.
Amend the terms of reference of AICHR to ensure that the body effectively addresses human rights violations perpetrated by law enforcement bodies and state agents, including enforced disappearances.
Provisions to give teeth to the AICHR must include: 1) establishment of a review mechanism of the human rights performance of ASEAN member states; 2) enable AICHR to conduct country visits; and 3) allow the AICHR to receive, investigate, and address complaints of human rights violations in the ASEAN member states.

As ASEAN advances towards a common economic community, we remind the ASEAN governments and AICHR that they have obligations under international law to ensure that the human rights of all peoples in the ASEAN region are upheld and protected. Peoples in the ASEAN region should be able to look forward to a region of diverse cultures and faiths, united by peace, social-economic justice, democracy and ecological sustainability.

We ask the international community, civil society, human rights organizations and human rights defenders to support our efforts to put an end to this cruel and grave crime of impunity.

Signed by:

Organizations

1. Advocacy Forum – Nepal

2. American Friends Service Committee

3. Asian Human Rights Commission – Hong Kong

4. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD)

5. Association of Con Dau Parishioners

6. Boat People SOS

7. Cambodia Grassroots Cross Sector Network – Cambodia

8. Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee

9. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC

10.  Campaign to Abolish Torture in Vietnam

11.  Coalition to Abolish Modern Day Slavery in Asia

12.  Defence for Human Rights – Pakistan

13.  Families of the Disappeared (FoD)

14.  Finnish Asiatic Society – Finland

15.  Focus on the Global South

16.  The Free Jonas Burgos Movement (FJBM) – Philippines

17.  Gray Panthers of Metropolitan Washington DC – United States

18.  HAK Association

19.  Human Rights Online Philippines – Philippines

20.  Imparsial – The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor

21.  International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED)

22.  Justice for Peace Foundation – Thailand

23.  JSMP – Timor-Leste

24.  Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Philippines

25.  KilusanPaka Sa PambansanuDemokrasion  – Philippines

26.  Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) – Philippines

27.  Land Core Group – Myanmar

28.  Odhikar – Bangladesh

29.  People’s Watch – India

30.  Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement – Philippines

31.  Rights, Inc- Philippines

32.  The Sombath Initiative

33.  Southern Peasant Federation – Thailand

34.  Toward Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance

35.  Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

36.  Vietnamese Women for Human Rights – Vietnam.

37.  Worker’s Information Center – Cambodia

38.  Women Peace Network Arakan and Justice for Women – Myanmar

39.  Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam – Indonesia

Individuals

40.  Vo Van Ai,President, Vietnam Committee on Human Rights – Vietnam

41.  Dr. Keith Barney, Lecturer, The Australian National University – Australia

42.  VachararutaiBoontinand– Thailand

43.  K.J. Brito Fernando, President of Families of the Disappeared

44.  Anne-Sophie Gindroz

45.  William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Defender and Freelance Journalist – United Kingdom

46.  Victoria Goh, former UNODC staff – Singapore

47.  Edeliza P Hermandez, Executive Director of the Medical Action Group – Philippines

48.  Philip Hirsch, Director of Mekong Research Group

49.  PoengkyIndarti, Executive Director of Imparsial – Indonesia

50.  PanjitKaewsawang, Feminist Activist – Thailand

51.  NaparatKranrattanasuit, Lecturer and researcher at Human Right and Peace Studies, Mahidol University – Thailand

52.  Margie Law, Mekong Monitor, Tasmania, Australia

53.  Max M.de Mesa, Chairperson, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates – Philippines

54.  Mugiyanto, Chair of the Board of Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared (IKOHI) – Indonesia

55.  PadtheeraNarkurairattana- Thailand

56.  Shuimeng Ng, wife of Mr. SombathSomphone – Singapore

57.  SiaPhearum, Executive Director of the Housing Rights Task Force–  Cambodia

58.  Sor.RattanamaneePolkla, Human Rights Lawyer – Thailand

59.  BanpotThontiravong, PhD.  Institute of Human Right and Peace Studies, Mahidol University  – Thailand

60.  Huynh ThucVy –Vietnam

61.  YuyunWahyuningrum, Senior Advisor on ASEAN and Human Rights, Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) – Indonesia

62.  SuphatmetYunyasit, Institute of Human Right and Peace Studies, Mahidol University – Thailand

Source: http://focusweb.org/content/statement-calling-asean-and-aichr-end-enforced-disappearance-south-east-asia

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[Video] “Agaw-Lupa” (Land Grab) -Focus on the Global South

“Agaw-Lupa” (Land Grab)

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

“Focus on the Global South, with Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA), aims to document land reform, land rights struggles, and post-land distribution accounts that have yet to find successful endings but can already show better beginnings for farmer-beneficiaries. The first of this series of accounts/stories was about the farmers at Hacienda Luisita, with links at http://youtu.be/mvwe019V0hc and http://bit.ly/1cufPda. The second stop, featured through a video documentation and article we now share with you, is at Hacienda Dolores, Porac, Pampanga, an agrarian hotspot and a scene of land grabbing and various human rights violations by real estate developers. In these interviews, farmer-beneficiaries at the Hacienda talk about their lives before the land grabbing and human rights violations, their current struggles, and aspirations and demands for reclaiming the lands.

focusweb_logo

The farmers, collectively organized under the Aniban ng Mamamayan ng Hacienda Dolores (Organization of Hacienda Dolores Citizens, or ANIBAN), are land rights claimants cultivating 761 hectares of productive agricultural lands. Their right to own the land is mandated and protected under the Philippine Government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Their ownership of the land should have been fulfilled as early as 1988, the year CARP was enacted.

Here’s the video link on “Agaw-Lupa” (Land Grab):

tackling the woes and demands of the residents and farmers at the Hacienda and on “Hustisya” (Justice)

http://bit.ly/1zIMC8y,
which focuses on the human rights violations, in particular the criminalization of dissent and killing of farmer leaders in the area in the last two years.

These videos were produced in partnership with KATARUNGAN and Task Force Hacienda Dolores.

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[From the web] Criminalization and anti-union measures heightened in 2014 -CTUHR

Criminalization and anti-union measures heightened in 2014
(Second part of a three-part series of Trade Union and Human Rights Situation 2014 )

In the year 2014, CTUHR documented a total of 82 cases of trade union and human rights violations that affected almost 10,000 workers (See Tables 8a and 8b). Dismissals, refusal to bargain with the union, and union busting are the most glaring economic violations affecting several thousands of workers. At least one worker was extra-judicially killed while hundreds more were harassed, threatened and detained. Number of victims of legal offensives increased by 75 percent as more unionists were slapped with false criminal charges. Violations of labor standards were also documented even as the government reported high compliance rating of private enterprises with less than 200 workers.

CTUHR logo

Violations of labor standards

CTUHR documented several cases of labor standard violations notably non-payment of minimum wages. For example in Ardi Construction and Development Corp. in Pasig, workers only receive P 350 to 420 a day in contrast to the minimum wage of P466. Workers in Creative Stone Tech. Corp in Bulacan also receive wages below the minimum rate of P349. Creative Stone, a company which produces kitchen sinks and tiles and employs at least 100 employees, pays only P250 for 8 hours of work each day.

The government reported a 98 percent compliance to labor standards of enterprises with 200 or more workers with 11 regions including CARAGA registered 100 percent compliance rate, 99.2 percent for Region IV-A or CALABARZON and 99.8 percent in the National Capital Region. However, it must be noted that the government adopts a “self-assessment” procedure for big enterprises. This means that companies with 200 or more workers need not be inspected by labor standard inspectors; rather these companies evaluate their own compliance with the labor standards. But for companies with less than 200 workers, the DOLE inspected 29,248 enterprises in 2014 and found 84.6 percent compliance rate: 89.8 percent in the NCR, 83.2 percent in CALABARZON, 70.8 percent in CARAGA, and 54.9 percent in Region IV-B or MIMAROPA.

Loose regulations and enforcement of occupational health and safety standards keep workers barely protected from occupational deaths and hazards resulting in 11 more worker deaths in the year 2014. Three separate accidents claimed the lives of workers in the following companies: Hanjin Heavy Industries Subic Zambales (1); Asia Metro Tech, Pasay (8); and Ardi Const and Development Corp. (2) (See Table#). Similar to DOLE’s guidelines on basic labor standards, companies with 200 or more workers merely undergo self-assessment to check their compliance to OHS standards. In the year 2014, the DOLE reported having inspected 3,711 workplaces with less than 200 workers, 88.3 percent of which complied to OHS standards.

Read full article @ctuhr.org

REPORT
6 March 2015

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[Press Release] PNoy approves six-month extension of deadline for Martial Law claims application -Akbayan

PNoy approves six-month extension of deadline for Martial Law claims application

Three months after the November 10, 2014 deadline expiration, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has approved Joint Resolution No. 3 extending for six months the deadline for Martial Law claims application to May 2015.

akbayan_logo

Joint Resolution No. 3 is the consolidation of Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 and House Joint Resolution No. 16.

“The enactment of the law is a crucial victory for the families and victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law period whose hope and opportunity to file their claims for reparation and redress for the sacrifices and sufferings they endured in the past were blighted by the November 2014 deadline,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez.

“With the new deadline, we ensure that all legitimate claimants, particularly those who are now in their final years and those who are living in the far-flung areas, are given the vital time and full opportunity to file their claims with the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board,” the lawmaker added.

Gutierrez said that an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 legitimate claimants are yet to file their claims for reparation under Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

“Even as a new deadline is set, we, however, continue to urge the various grassroots-based civil society organizations located across the country to support the Board in reaching out to all the victims, many of whom have no access to public information on Martial Law claims and the Claims board,” the Akbayan solon said.

“Through our collective efforts, we could help usher in the much-needed redress to the victims and provide a proper recognition of their heroism and sacrifices in defense of individual rights and liberties and the nation’s democracy while laying down the necessary steps toward national healing and renewal,” he concluded.

February 25, 2015
PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact Person: Rose Humiwat @ 0905 132 5474

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[Press Release] The US Congress continues to be concerned about human rights violations by the Philippine Army”. -EANP

The US Congress continues to be concerned about human rights violations by the Philippine Army”.

In an appropriations bill signed by president Obama on December 15, the US Congress expressed serious concern about the lack of progress on human rights by the Philippine Army. The bill appropriates $50 million in credits for the Armed Forces of the Philppines to buy arms from the US, but bill contains provisions that prevent funding of the Army unless the US Secretary of State certifies the Army meets three human rights restrictions.

Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines

In order for the Philippine Army to be given access to the funding the Government of the Philippines must be:
1) investigating and prosecuting army personnel who are credibly alleged to have committed, or aided or abetted, extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, and other gross violations of human rights, and strengthening government institutions working to eliminate such crimes;
2) implementing a policy of promoting army personnel who demonstrate professionalism and respect for human rights; and
3) taking steps to ensure that the Philippine army and paramilitary groups under its control are not engaging in acts of intimidation or violence against journalists or human rights defenders.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines (EANP), a US based human rights group that has advocated for the human rights restrictions since its founding in 2007, recently sent a letter to the US Congress and the State Department documenting the lack of progress on human rights. EANP stated that the Army has a very poor record of prosecuting human rights violators. Since President Benigno Aquino was inaugurated, 152 political and environmental activists have been killed and 18 disappeared. There have been very few arrests, and only a handful of convictions and not one mastermind has been convicted. The Army continues to promote human rights violators. In 2013 the Army promoted Brigadier General Eduardo Año, Brigadier General Aurelio Baladad, Lieutenant General Jorge Segovia, and Brigadier General Ricardo Visaya, all Army officers with credible accusations of involvement in human rights violations. Killings and abductions continue. Human rights groups in the Philippines have documented over 40 killings so far in 2014, a very significant increase compared to the previous year. In addition to the killings, detentions, torture, disappearances, enforced dislocations of indigenous people, harassment and intimidation of human rights advocates, and suppression of labor rights are on the rise.

Since 2008 the AFP has lost over $13M in funding because the US Secretary State concluded that the AFP has not sufficiently improved its human rights record.

Press Release

Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines, Durham, North Carolina (P.O. Box 51844, Durham, NC 27717,
email: eanp2007@email.com,
http://www.eanp.org,
phone number +1-651-646-1985

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[Press Release] Human rights groups urge the government to lead the way in the protection of human rights defenders in the ASEAN region

Human rights groups urge the government to lead the way in the protection of human rights defenders in the ASEAN region

The Medical Action Group (MAG) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) urge the government to lead the way in the protection and defense of human rights defenders in the ASEAN region through enactment of a law on the protection of human rights defenders and conduct a comprehensive legislative audit in order to review and repeal laws which criminalize their work.

MAG TFDP

In a statement, “the Philippines should ensure that the leadership it shows in terms of promotion of human rights in the ASEAN is reflected in our national laws,” MAG and TFDP said.

Based on documentation of the MAG and TFDP, it is increasingly well documented that the use of laws to impede the activities of human rights defenders and to criminalize them is alarming. http://www.omct.org/files/2014/12/22918/obs_2014_uk_web2.pdf

“We have faced significant challenges on the field that in many cases, complaints by human rights defenders about alleged violations of their rights are not investigated or are dismissed without justification. For instance, the case of Antonio L. Tolentino, human rights defender and barangay chairperson of Barangay Hacienda Dolores in Porac, Pampanga, he is in detention since April this year due to lack of competent investigation into the charges filed by the private security agency employed by ,”  Edeliza P. Hernandez, MAG Executive Director said.

Further, Emmanuel C. Amistad, TFDP Executive Director, said that it is disconcerting to know the arrest and detention of Jose Aaron Pedrosa, Jr., lawyer and human rights defender, on November 25, 2014 in Mandaue City. He was charged with obstruction of justice while pleading to authorities to stop harassing the residents of Sitio Mahayag, Barangay Subang Daku, Mandaue City. These acts of intimidation and harassment only shows the inadequacy of laws to support the work of human rights defenders and serving to further erode any confidence in our judicial system.

Human rights defenders play a crucial role in exposing and seeking accountability for human rights violations both by government and corporations. Their work is crucial to transparency, good governance and justice for victims.

The MAG and TFDP are currently implementing 3-year project, “Use of Evidence Based Approach to Human Rights Documentation and Monitoring for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and their Families, and in the Fight Against Impunity”, worth Php 25 million supported by the European Union (EU) under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), to provide support for and strengthen protection of human rights defenders and their families.

The provision of medical and psychological services including temporary shelter, and legal support to human rights defenders at risk and their families, as they participate in long, extremely difficult and for some reason, dangerous legal proceeding, have resulted in providing adequate protection for them to pursue legal remedies.

“We continuously ensure efforts have been made to cooperate with the UN system and human rights mechanisms with a mandate to protect human rights defenders wherein the United Nations Human Rights Council in its 27th session on August 27, 2014 (A/HRC/27/38, August 27, 2014, Human Rights Council, 27th session Agenda items 2 and 5) included in its agenda the intimidation and harassment against Jun Sapanghari, human rights defender in Bukidnon, killings of  land rights defenders Elisa Tulid in Quezon province, Sixto Bagasala Jr. in Malabon City  and Julieto Lauron in Bukidnon,” MAG and TFDP both said.

It is, however, regrettable that despite repeated calls by international human rights organizations and members of the diplomatic community, the Philippines have yet to act on enactment of specific law on the protection of human rights defenders.

“We call on the government to provide the basis for a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders like Brgy. Captain Tolentino, Atty. Pedrosa among others and take all steps to end restrictions against them,’ MAG and TFDP both concluded.

House Bill No. 1472 , “Human Rights Defenders Protection Act of 2013” http://www.congress.gov.ph/members/search.php?id=hicap-f&pg=coauth could assist not only to provide formal legal protection to the work of human rights defenders, but also to give official recognition to the legitimacy of such work, educate authorities, public officials and the public at large about the importance of human rights defenders and the protection thereof.-end-

BACKGROUND

The MAG and TFDP are currently implementing 3-year project worth Php 25 million supported by the European Union (EU) under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/philippines/documents/press_corner/20142606c.pdf to provide support for and strengthen protection of human rights defenders and their families.

The title of the project is “Use of Evidence Based Approach to Human Rights Documentation and Monitoring for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and their Families, and in the Fight Against Impunity”.

The prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of torture victims has been one of the priorities for funding under the EIDHR which, since 2006, has provided more than € 6 million (or Php 360 million) to support civil society’s efforts to address various human rights issues in the Philippines.

Under its bilateral cooperation, the EU also provides significant resources and technical assistance for the protection of human rights. Through the EU-Philippines Justice Support Programme (EPJUST), it notably cooperates with the various stakeholders of the criminal justice system to reinforce their capacities to ensure the conviction of perpetrators of major human rights violations such as extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, and torture.

In the future, the EU will increase its support to the Commission on Human Rights and to civil society for better human rights protection.

December 10, 2014
Press release

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[Press Release] Extra-judicial killings, other human rights violations persist under ‘tuwid na daan’ – Nagkaisa!

Extra-judicial killings, other human rights violations persist under ‘tuwid na daan’ – Nagkaisa!

A culture of impunity translated into extra-judicial killings (EJK) and other forms of human rights violations against leaders and labor organizers continue under the ‘tuwid na daan’, a coalition of major trade unions and labor organizations in the country, Nagkaisa!, said in a statement on the eve of the celebration of International Human Rights Day.

NAGKAISA

Since 2011, Nagkaisa! is engaged in dialogues with the Aquino administration on several labor issues, including some 62 unsolved cases of EJKs involving labor.

Nagkaisa! said the most recent in the cases of unsolved EJKs was the  murder of a labor organizer in Negros Occidental.  Rolando Pango, a full time organizer of Partido Manggagawa (PM) was gunned down in Binalbagan town in Negros Occidental on Novermber 29, 2014.

“Prior to his death, Pango was deeply involved in both the agrarian and labor disputes in Hacienda Salud, a 135-hectare sugar plantation in Barangay Rumirang, Isabela leased and managed by Manuel Lamata,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

Pango was instrumental in organizing the plantation workers in Hacienda Salud who in June applied the land under CARPER coverage.  Salud workers has also filed of a case of illegal dismissal before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) against Lamata for unlawful termination 41 workers.

PM and Nagkaisa is calling on both the national and local governments to render immediate justice to this case.

Josua Mata, Secretary General of Alliance of Progressive Labor–Sentro, said Nagkaisa will be raising this issue before the Tripartite Industrial Council (TIPC) and the DOJ panel investigating the EJKs.

“Like Ruby, solving cases of EJKs in the country is a slow-grind,” said Mata.

Before Pango, another PM organizer, Victoriano Embang, leader of Maria Cecilia Farm Workers Association (MACFAWA) in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental was also killed on December 29, 2012.  A failed assassination attempt against his brother, Anterio Embang, followed  few months later, February 28, 2013.
A Negrense himself, Magtubo said Negros remains a ‘labor hotspot’ because of strong resistance by landlords to agrarian reform and their outmoded serf-type treatment of their laborers.

“Perhaps this regional feudal context has escaped the eyes of the labor department and the national government.  Or they simply don’t care,” added Magtubo.

Aside from EJKs, Nagkaisa! is also alarmed at the resurgence of other forms of human rights violations.

Last October,  Antonio Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper, was arrested on trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.  The union and the management were then in the thick of labor dispute when the case was file against Quizon.

But the most widespread of human rights violations, Nagkaisa! said, is the violation of labor’s 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.

NEWS RELEASE
NAGKAISA!
09 December 2014
Contact: Wilson Fortaleza
09053732185

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[Announcement] Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) Closes Acceptance of Applications on November 10, 2014 at 12:00 midnight, Will Open Again Once Extension Is Granted By Law

Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) Closes Acceptance of Applications on November 10, 2014 at 12:00 midnight, Will Open Again Once Extension Is Granted By Law

The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) wishes to advise all possible claimants that in view of the legally-set deadline of applications for reparation and recognition under RA 10368, acceptance of applications will close at 12:00 midnight of November 10, 2014 in its main office at ISSI, UP Diliman, and in the regional desks.

Human Rights Violations Victims Claims Board

In view of the assurance of Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, in a public statement yesterday, on the passage of the six-month extension for the filing of claims by victims of human rights violations during Martial Law, the HRVCB will make the appropriate preparations to conduct the next round of acceptance of applications as soon as the extension of the filing period becomes effective.

Rep. Gutierrez stated that “victims of human rights violations during Martial Law who are unable to file by November 10, 2014 may still file their claims for reparation and recognition upon the approval of the Joint Resolution extending the filing period for claims.” Separate Joint Resolutions in the House of Representatives and in the Senate were filed seeking the extension in response to the report of the HRVCB on the incidence of continuing surges of claimants in all the application sites. The extension will also give more opportunity for other legitimate claimants living in far-flung areas to prepare their documents and file their claims.

The House has already approved on third reading said Joint Resolution for Extension of Filing Period. The Senate, on the other hand, is set to approve the same measure on third reading upon resumption of its session on November 17, 2014.

As of 5 November 2014, the total number of applications for recognition and reparation filed has already reached 39,377.

The Board wishes to inform the public about the operations of its desks located in the Commission on Human Rights Regional Offices at: San Fernando City, La Union; San Fernando City, Pampanga; Baguio City; Legazpi City; Tuguegarao City; Cebu City; Iloilo City; Tacloban City; Bacolod City; Davao City; Cagayan de Oro City; Butuan City; Zamboanga City; and Cotabato City (Regional Human Rights Center of the ARMM).

After filing period, each and every claim will be deliberated by the HRVCB to determine legitimacy of the claim and entitlement to an award. After all claims have been decided upon, distribution on the award shall be set and announced to the public. Information about the recognition and reparation process pursuant to RA 10368 is posted at http://www.hrvclaimsboard.gov.ph.

RA 10368 seeks to provide recognition and reparation, both monetary and non-monetary, to all victims of human rights violations during the dark and tumultuous Martial Law regime. Once found to be entitled, their names shall be enshrined in the Roll of Victims of Human Rights Violations, in acknowledgment of their heroism and sacrifices. The law was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino last February 25, 2013.

PUBLIC ADVISORY NO.:11-7-2014
7 November 2014
AUTHORITY: Chairperson Lina C. Sarmiento
Telephone: 0999-505-9737

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[Press Release] Akbayan Rep. Gutierrez assures passage of 6-month extension of filing of claims for ML victims

Akbayan Rep. Gutierrez assures passage of 6-month extension of filing of claims for ML victims

With the November 10 deadline fast approaching, Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez on Thursday assured the passage of the six-month extension for the filing of claims by victims of human rights violations during Martial Law.

Photo from Team Barry

Photo from Team Barry

Gutierrez made the statement amid fears that the deadline will effectively cut-off the other victims from filing for claims under Republic Act No. 10368 after November 10.

“Victims of human rights violations during Martial Law who are unable to file by November 10, 2014 may still file their claims for reparation and recognition upon the approval of the Joint Resolution extending the filing period for claims,” the lawmaker said.

“We assure the victims that the deadline will not disenfranchise them or unduly cut them off from their rightful claims,” Gutierrez said.

Together with fellow Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, Gutierrez principally authored the Joint Resolution at the House of Representatives which seeks to move the deadline of filing from November 10, 2014 to May 2015.

Gutierrez underscored that the extension was sought because of the actual situation on the ground, as reported by the Claims board, where a surge of claimants was noted during actual intake operations, particularly in their mobile intake sites.

“The six-month extension was sought to cope with the large number of persons seeking for reparation and recognition under RA 10368,” the Akbayan solon said.

“Further, this also allows the legitimate claimants, especially those living in far-flung areas of the country, the full opportunity to file their claims with the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB),” Gutierrez said.

The House has already approved on third reading said Joint Resolution. The Senate, on the other hand, is set to approve the same measure on third reading upon resumption of its session on November 17, 2014.

“There is a strong commitment from both chambers of Congress to approve the six-month extension, which we believe is crucial in providing Martial Law victims the full opportunity for redress and ensuring that they are recognized according to their rightful place in our history,” Gutierrez said.

Thousands still pending recognition

According to the HRVCB, the total number of applications for recognition and reparation filed has already reached 36,253 as of November 4, 2014.

The expected number of claimants is at 55,000-90,000.

“It is evident that we need to expand our time frame, particularly the period for filing of applications,” Gutierrez said.

“By ensuring the passage of the proposed extension of deadline, we are giving the victims the proper recognition and compensation they deserve for their sacrifices in protecting this nation’s liberties and freedom, particularly those who are now on their final years,” the lawmaker concluded.

RA 10368, otherwise known as the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 was signed into law by Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III on February 13, 2013 granting all victims of human rights violations committed by the Marcos regime to receive monetary and non-monetary reparations.

6 November 2014
PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact Person: Rose Humiwat @ 0905 132 5474

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[Blog] Can NMM be an effective monitoring body? By Darwin Mendiola

Can NMM be an effective monitoring body?
October 14, 2014
By Darwin Mendiola

Human rights violations particularly extra-legal killings (ELKs), enforced disappearances (EDs) and torture continue to occur in the country with total impunity.

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Until now, not a single person has been brought to justice. Even in high-profile cases which have been swiftly investigated, they only ended up in imposing of administrative sanctions against suspected perpetrators rather than filing of criminal charges.

The establishment of a National Monitoring Mechanism (NMM) could have been a significant step towards the effective prevention of these heinous offenses and breaking through the prevailing climate of impunity by finding resolutions to all these crimes.

In fact, it was one of the positive developments that the Philippine government cited in its report for the Universal Periodic Review in 2010. It even received huge international supports for funding and technical assistance.

However, after more than three years the creation of such body remains stalled and has only devolved into a mere mechanism of consultation and discussion on human rights issues instead of moving forward by ensuring that remedies are available to victims and their families as well as guaranteeing that impunity is addressed.

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) as the national human rights institution is tasked to convene the relevant government agencies and non-government organizations to revive the effort of establishing an effective monitoring body.

But its creation was eventually overshadowed by issuance of the Administrative Order No. 35 series of 2012 creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra Judicial Killings (ELKs), Enforced Disappearances (EDs), Torture and other Grave Violation of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons under the Department of Justice.

To make the NMM relevant, there is a need to resolve its complementation with AO 35 in order to avoid duplicating the function of monitoring the progress of specific cases and to provide the kind of information needed to push a criminal case involving an EJK, ED or torture to its resolution.

While the different stakeholders agreed that the NMM can still be a case-based monitoring mechanism to help identify the obstacles to pursuing accountability through our seemingly ineffective criminal justice system, but it should evolve into a more programmatic approach that includes human rights promotion and prevention of such violations and the provision of different services to victims and their families. The NMM can also provide an avenue for the substantive role of civil society and a significant degree of victim participation in the monitoring process.

However, this dilemma may have pushed the the CHRP to look the other way than just merely focusing its attention to the three major human rights violations (e.i. ELKs, EDs and Torture). For the CHRP, the NMM should be a comprehensive monitoring mechanism of determining government compliance with international human rights treaties in the government’s functions, systems and processes with the end in view of harmonizing them with the standards and principles of human rights and recommending appropriate measures and actions.

What the CHRP is trying to do is simply to extend its functions as the institutional human rights monitoring body to the NMM rather than making the NMM a unique body with specific goals and priorities.

While it is true that civil and political rights violations are related or caused by violations of other fundamental rights such as Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, but addressing these cases will require specific attentions and approaches especially in providing victims of such violations with adequate means of apportioning responsibility.

How the NMM can be an effective monitoring body with a specific or broader mandate, will really depend on how the stakeholders especially the state security forces are committed to work with due diligence.

Because in the end, the families of the victims are the ones who are left waiting with uncertainty, while they have not given up on their search for the missing, whether dead or alive, and seeking justice for those who were tortured and ill-treated.

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[Blog] Five Reasons why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani By Darwin Mendiola

Five Reasons why Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani
By Darwin Mendiola

The commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the Martial Law Declaration has once again revived the debate over whether former president Ferdinand Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

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Although, President Benigno Aquino III has made it clear that the late president would not be laid to rest at the national pantheon under his watch, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, the late president’s son still expressed optimism that PNoy would soon have a change of heart and would finally give his father a state burial.

For those who were lucky not to be born yet during the dictatorial regime of the late president might be puzzled on what this fuss is all about that is seemingly dividing the country once again.

Some who are fortunate to have lived to tell their stories of sufferings during Martial Law are firm in their stand to deny Marcos of a hero’s burial. Others who have had enough of political bickering are now calling for forgiveness and reconciliation in order for the country to move forward.

However, the controversy here lies not on the very act of burying the remains of the late president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani but to be or not to be considered a hero in the context of a possible state burial.
Let me just give you some logical thoughts on this issue. Here are the five reasons why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani:

#1 Republic Act No. 289 provides the main reason for the national pantheon as provided in its Section 1 which states that, “to perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generation still unborn.”

In short, it is reserved for those whom the nation honors for their service to the country. Marcos as a former President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is not automatically qualified for there is also a disqualification clause that says that any personnel who dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service or who were convicted by final judgment of the offense involving moral turpitude will be unentitled to be interred in the national pantheon.

Considering this very intent of the law and given the historical facts of what had transpired during Martial Law and the way the late president and his first family were chased out of Malacanang and out of the country through People Power Revolution, Marcos would hardly consider a hero worth emulating and an inspiration to the Filipinos and to the next generation.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is desecrating the memories of our Filipino Heroes.
Reference:
http://asianjournalusa.com/marcos-to-be-or-not-to-be-lnmb-p10455-168.htm

If this reason is not enough, we can go to the next one.

#2 Martial Law remains one of the darkest episodes in Philippine history. There were 3,257 victims of extra-judicial killings, 35,000 tortured, and 70,000 incarcerated under Marcos’ dictatorship.

In fact, Republic Act No. 10368 was recently passed by Philippine Congress as recognition for the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime.

Even long before that, 9,500 human rights victims who filed class suit against the Marcos already won $2 billion in damages in a Honolulu court which were affirmed by 2011 ruling by a United States Circuit Court in Hawaii.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is an insult to the thousands of martial law victims.
Reference: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/54a/062.html

If you are still unconvinced, let us now talk about the economy under the Marcos regime.

#3 The prosperity and progress under the Marcos regime is an illusion. In 1974, the poverty rate was 24%. By 1980 it was 40%. When Marcos assumed the presidency, the country’s foreign debt was US$1 billion. When Marcos fled to Hawaii, the country was heavily in debt with US$25 Billion. The bulk of these borrowed funds, according to sources had been stashed abroad.

Not only that the Marcoses and its associates were accused of plundering an estimated $10 billion from the Philippines, “Imeldific” is now synonymous to extravagant displays of wealth, sometimes to the point of vulgarity because of her lavish shopping trips to New York City with a huge entourage, spending millions on jewelry, clothes, and shoes.

It in noted that as of now, the Presidential Commission on Good Government had recovered 164 billion pesos (about $4 billion) since its creation, including a 150-carat ruby and a diamond tiara, hundreds of millions of dollars hidden in Swiss bank accounts and prime real estate in New York City.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a slap in the face of the millions of Filipinos who have suffered in grinding poverty while still paying for the debts of the Marcoses.
Reference:

If that is still not sufficient enough, let’s see if you really know our history.
# 4 Having Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani would mean rewriting our history. This will require revision of all history textbooks to glorify Marcos and depict the Martial Law as a peaceful and prosperous period in Philippine history.
It is not only a waste of public money but it will make our historians look like a bunch of fools. Filipinos are known to have short memories and are the most forgiving of people – a character that will always allow thieves, liars, scalawags and rascals to take advantage, but it does not mean we should stay ignorant and be naïve in allowing our history to be rewritten for some personal vested interests.
A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a shameless attempt to rewrite history.

Reference:
Rewriting History?

People, it would appear have very short memories and it is this which prompts me to write my blog this morning. It was Edmund Burke, a renowned Irish philosopher …
View on grantleishman.weebl…Preview by Yahoo

If you are still not convinced yet, you are either too slow to get it or you are just simply stupid to understand that this issue is merely a desperate attempt of the Marcoses to reclaim their political power.

#5 Declaring Marcos as a hero, would serve well not only the personal but also the political interest of his family. It will definitely exonerate them from their past crimes.

Senator Bongbong Marcos was quite open with his intention to run for President in 2016. He could very well project himself as THE SON OF A HERO as veteran journalist Ms. Raissa Robles put it in her blog.
That will also lift the burden to Mrs. Marcos for hiding her extravagance – of our money and will be entitled even with a pension as an elected government official as if she direly needed it. Noting that she is the second richest congressperson behind, of course, Manny Pacquiao.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a mockery to the intelligence of the Filipino electorate.
Reference:
http://raissarobles.com/2011/04/13/why-the-marcoses-want-ferdinand-buried-a-hero/

I can still give more reasons why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. But it will be a waste of my time if the one reading this post is not smart enough to understand it. Just remember what Edmund Burke once said,

“Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.”

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[Statement] Honor the heroes and martyrs of Martial Law, resist the Marcoses -TFDP

Honor the heroes and martyrs of Martial Law, resist the Marcoses

11 x 16 inches poster copy

In commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972 Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) calls on all those who experienced this dark side of our history as a nation to assert the truth about the atrocities of Martial Law and challenge the massive efforts of the Marcoses and its allies to intentionally distort history and mislead our youth today.

TFDP logo small

Commemoration of Martial Law must be a celebration of Filipino heroism. Commemoration of Martial Law must be a call for the generation of today to never allow this to happen again. Commemoration of martial must be a reiteration of commitment to assert justice for all victims and resistance to any kind of distortion that perpetrators who are now in power again try to propagate.

We are alarmed and saddened that the Marcoses were able to come back to power. They are slowly and silently gaining the hearts of the youth by spreading their own truth and distort facts through the use of the social networking sites. “Bong-bong Marcos for President” facebook page has gained more than 100,000 likes.

Imelda Marcos was and is in fact confident that they will be back in Malacanang soon.

Therefore we must show and tell the generation of today stories and facts of sacrifices and openly expose and oppose the Marcoses and its allies by maximizing all fronts including the social networking sites in reaching the youth. We will not only remember but we will commit to also launch an information campaign to educate our youth.

The youth must know that the freedoms we enjoy today was paid for in blood by our martyrs and heroes. This generation and the generations to come must know the truth about the tyranny and oppression of the Marcoses. The youth must know that Filipinos under the Marcos dictatorship were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, disappeared and killed. The youth must know that massive corruption were perpetrated by the Marcoses and its allies and still are enjoying the money that they stole from the people up to now.

The youth must learn that the lesson is to not let the Marcoses regain Malacanang and use it to redeem their names.

Although we are no match to the wealth of the Marcoses that they are using in propagating their distorted truth, we believe in the power of facts about the thousands of documented cases of human rights atrocities perpetrated by the late Ferdiand Marcos, we believe in the commitment of that generation to continuously resist and refuse to forget. The generation of today must know our stories of sacrifice and courage, of selfllessness and commitment, of resistance and struggle against tyranny!

We implore the “martial law” generation to stand up, speak up and say: Never again to tyranny. Never again to the Marcoses. We, who survived those times, owe it to our martyrs and heroes!
This nation owes a debt of gratitude to the countless faceless and nameless Filipinos who defied a dictator and his armed minions. This we shall never forget. Not while we breathe.Not while we live!

Never again to martial law! Never Again to the Marcoses!

Emmanuel Amistad
Executive Director
ecamistad@yahoo.com
tfdp.1974@gmail.com
09985481925
4378054
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

See online campaign @ https://www.facebook.com/TaskForceDetaineesofthePhilippines

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[Blog] When money is not enough. By Darwin Mendiola

When money is not enough
By Darwin Mendiola

A country in a democratic transition must come to terms with its past in order to move forward.

Addressing past atrocities and injustices is considered a crucial part of social healing and national reconciliation. Acknowledging the misdeeds especially human rights violations is one significant step towards guaranteeing the right of the victims for effective remedies.

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However, remedial measures take various forms of reparation. One way is through compensation. This serves both as an acknowledgment of the human rights violations and the sanctioning of the state for allowing or for directly committing such violations.

After more than four decades, the Philippine government through the passage of Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 finally recognizes “the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims” of human rights violations during martial law and “restore the victims’ honor and dignity.”

Compensation provides not only material but also symbolic political and social benefits. First, it helps bring immediate economic relief to victims and their families and allow them to meet the basic survival needs. Secondly, the monetary compensation may serve as a deterrent for future abuses by imposing financial sanctions for committing such violations.

Although harms or injuries resulting from human rights violations are often irreparable but compensation can help restore the victims’ dignity by knowing that their rights are recognized and the violations committed against them are being atoned.

But lest we forget that reparations are not primarily about money, but to publicly acknowledge the wrongdoings and to guarantee its non-repetition. It is a necessary component of the healing process as it signifies a concrete step on the part of the state to make amends and take full responsibility for the historical tragedies like Martial Law.

Compensation must therefore serve to continuously promote and protect human rights. For money can’t buy justice but it can help the victim to endlessly pursue it.

Visit Darwin’s blogsite @dars0357.wordpress.com

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[Blog] Torture Rehabilitation should be victim-centered. By Darwin Mendiola

Torture Rehabilitation should be victim-centered
By Darwin Mendiola

rehabilitation-is-a-rightrehabilitation-is-a-right

For human rights advocates, rehabilitation of torture victims is understood as both a right of the victims and a state obligation. It should play an important role in the broader agenda of achieving justice and respect for human rights.

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It must be viewed holistically as it goes beyond physical and psychological care and extend to other types of services (legal, social and economic services, e.g. education, employment, housing, etc.), that enable the victims to restore life with dignity and return to life of normalcy.

However, rehabilitation is more than just responding to victims’ basic needs. It must respond to the real impact of violations in victims’ lives and at the same time, it should be given as sincere efforts on the part of the government to acknowledge the human rights violations and to provide concrete measure of justice to those whore rights have been violated.

The participation of the victims and their families in the designing and effective implementation of rehabilitation programs and services is therefore vital. This will ensure that torture rehabilitation is tailored to each victim’s needs and their particular situation while considering the effects of torture and other violations on families, communities and larger society.

Rehabilitation programs should promote individual, family and social healing, recovery and reintegration. This may include restoring cultural practices, traditions and exercising political beliefs without fear. Working only at the individual level is not enough. There is a need to consider rehabilitation beyond the individual level and to look at social dimension of rehabilitation.

In the Philippines, the passage of the RA 9745 or Anti-Torture Law on 2009 and the promulgation of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program in March 2014, did not make any significant improvement in the human rights situation.

Not only for the fact the torture continues unabated, there is still a lack of adequate rehabilitation measures for torture survivors and their families. While institutional efforts are being undertaken to give flesh and blood to this normative framework, the reality remains that rehabilitation services are not yet readily available for torture victims/survivors in many countries including the Philippines.until now, relevant government agencies still have no clear operational procedure and have no budget line for its implementation.

Read full article @dars0357.wordpress.com

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[Resources] 55 cases of TUHR violations recorded on the first half of 2014 -CTUHR Monitor Online

55 cases of TUHR violations recorded on the first half of 2014
CTUHR MONITOR ONLINE

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) recorded 55 cases of trade union and human rights violations (TUHRVs) from January to June this year. Violations consist of encroachment on civil liberties of some 164 of workers and trade unionists as well as workplace and union-related violations of another 7,811 individuals.

CTUHR logo

Fabrication of criminal charges is the most prevalent violation in the said period with nine cases filed against 20 individuals mostly unionists and union organizers. CTUHR documentation notes that these trumped-up charges are filed by either companies or state forces to harass resisting workers, to curtail worker protest, to prevent union organizing or to implicate unionists in the armed insurgency. Criminal charges range from offenses as light as ‘physical injuries,’ ‘direct assault on person in authority’ to more serious crimes such as ‘violation of law on firearms, ammunition and explosives,’ ‘arson,’ and ‘murder.’ At least four out of the nine charges have been dismissed by state or city prosecutors to date.

Read full article @ctuhr.org

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