Rights victims file raps vs Duterte at international tribunal

MANILA -- Various people's organizations led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and Karapatan announced at a press conference today that victims of rights violations will testify before the International Peoples' Tribunal (IPT2018) on September 18-19 in Brussels, Belgium to indict Presidents Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump "for crimes against the Filipino people."

Upon the victims' plea, the Tribunal is being convened by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).

Its findings and verdict will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the European Parliament and the United Nations Human Rights Council on September 21, 2018, anniversary of martial law in the Philippines.

"The continuing impunity of killings, state violence and other crimes against the Filipino people compel us to file these cases against the regime. The judicial system itself is under attack in the Philippines.  Hence, an impartial tribunal recognized internationally can serve as moral suasion to stop the attacks and make the regime accountable for its crimes," Teddy Casiño of Bayan said.

Representatives of workers, peasants and women's groups joined Lumad leaders and victims of Duterte's "war on drugs" at the press conference. Rise Up for Life and Rights, a network of victims of the drug-killings, human rights advocates and church workers, filed a separate case against Duterte early this month before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Pres. Duterte announced last March the unilateral withdrawal of the Republic of the Philippines from its ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC, in reaction to the decision of the court’s prosecutor to launch a preliminary examination on the on-going killings in the country.

Duterte’s full-scale attacks on the people

Jigs Clamor of Karapatan explained that the cases filed before the IPT2018 illustrate the full-scale attacks of the Duterte government on the Filipino people.

He cited three broad categories on rights violations for the cases filed: 1) civil and political rights; 2) economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR); and 3) national sovereignty, development, and international humanitarian law.

Under the civil and political rights violations are the mass murder of more than 23,000 poor Filipinos through the brutal war on drugs, and more than 160 extra-judicial killings mostly of peasant and indigenous leaders.

In just one year of martial law in Mindanao, at least 49 victims of extrajudicial killings have been documented by Karapatan. There were also 22 documented cases of torture, 89 victims of illegal arrest and detention, and 336,124 victims of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings.

Trumped-up charges against leaders, activists and critics, including that of Senator and former justice secretary Leila de Lima, media repression, the deportation of Sr. Pat Fox and other foreign missionaries, and the detention of more than 500 political prisoners are also included in the charges.

Among the ESCR violations are issues of labor-only contractualization and union busting; landlessness and harassment of poor peasants, misogyny and abuse of women; negligence of overseas workers in distress; imposition of anti-poor economic policies like the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law; and the absence of decent housing for the urban poor.

Violations of international humanitarian law and the peoples’ rights to national self-determination and development include the attacks on 226 indigenous peoples’ schools in Mindanao by the AFP, PNP and the Department of Education; bombings and airstrikes of indigenous communities in Malibcong, Abra in March 2017; the massacre of seven personnel of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in August 2018; and the intervention of the US military and government in the Philippines.

International tribunal

Casiño said that the jurors of the IPT2018 form an international panel composed of eminent individuals from different disciplines with proven competence, integrity, probity and objectivity.

“The jurors are all experienced on issues on human rights, rights of peoples, and international humanitarian law,” he said.

Composing the jurors’ panel are: Mamdouh Habashi, head of the International Office of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party in Egypt and Vice-President of the World Forum for Alternatives (WFA) in Dakar; Monica Moorehead, co-coordinator of the International Working Women’s Day Coalition in New York City and an executive board member of the International Women’s Alliance; Ties Prakken, professor of criminal law at Maastricht University and practices criminal law and human rights; Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP); Atty. Azadeh N. Shahshahani, prominent human rights lawyer, former President of the National Lawyers Guild; Dr. Gianni Tognoni, Secretary General of the Permanent People's Tribunal (PPT); Roland Weyl, founder and first Vice-President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Dean of the Paris Bar; and Rev. Michael Yoshii, pastor of the Buena Vista United Methodist Church (UMC) in California and  Chairman of the Advocacy & Justice Committee for the California Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Reference: Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, 0999-7721233