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PIA Press Release
2008/02/04

Human rights groups want incidents of EJK prevented in long term

Malacanang, Manila (4 February) -- Human rights advocates urged the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) to include in the preparation of the country's human rights roadmap effective measures to further reduce incidents of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances in the country.

In a consultative meeting held recently at Malacanang in preparation for the country's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the UN Human Rights Council this year, the group discussed ways to address issues affecting civil and political rights in the country.

All 5 breakout groups mentioned the need to address killings of activists. Some urged legislators to pass a bill specifically on this issue.

One group consisting of government and civil society representatives said " it is hoped that the state report will…" develop proposals in respect to human rights and guidelines for the state and claimholders to promote human rights advocacies, which could in the longer term further prevent unnecessary victims.

The human rights groups included Bantay-Bayan Foundation, Karapatan, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Kasamaka CBR Foundation, Amnesty International, CWC and representatives of vulnerable groups such as women, children, and persons with disabilities.

This proposal came up after the "important role" of the civil society sector in the process of assessing human rights situation in the country and to finalize roadmap in compliance to the UN format was aired in the consultative forum.

In response to the call, PHRC Executive Director, Usec Cecilia R.V. Quisumbing has committed to include all the inputs of the sectors involved in document to be sent to the U.N. "This is in keeping with the participatory process, an important human rights principle", she said.

The government has undertaken several responses to address activist and media killings especially in 2006 and 2007.

As a result, both the PNP's Task Force Usig and NGO Karapatan report significant drops in incidences of such killings in 2007. Task Force Usig says the fall is 83%.

Administrative Order 163, issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on December 8, 2006, which provides the expansion of membership of the Presidential Human Rights Committee to coordinate compliance with international treaties on human rights and formulation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights and Human Rights Education was a big boost in human rights directions in the country.

The creation of a high-level "task force" to address extrajudicial executions and other political killings, including the ones being handled or monitored by the Philippine National Police's Task Force Usig and the AFP. The PNP's Usig had specifically been formed to look into the extrajudicial executions of journalists and leftist activists.

President GMA said in Administrative Order No. 211, which created the task force "with the recent incidents of violence in the country, political violence has become a fundamental moral and governance challenge". The AO was read by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) in the televised press conference.

According to the AO dated Nov. 26, Ms Arroyo has armed the task force with requisite powers and funding to stem the tide of killings of leftist activists and all other cases related to " political violence", Ermita said.

The government responses to the issues will be incorporated in the UPR, together with the background, assessment and roadmap in compliance with the UN guidelines. The country's delegation to the UN General Assembly will report on February 15.

Under the UN resolution, the 43 members of the first Human Rights Council (HRC) elected in May 2006 by the UN assembly will be the first to be reviewed. (PHRC) [top]

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