UN Human Rights Committee finds RP government guilty of rights violations on the Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy case

The UN Human Rights Committee, the UN treaty body monitoring the States parties' compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), has found the Philippine government guilty of violating primarily the right to life of human rights defenders Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy. The Committee's Views were put out on October 30, 2008 in its 94th session held in the UN in Geneva.

The official UN 12-page communication tabbed as CCPR/C/94/1560/2007 and dated 11 November 2008 was received by Karapatan yesterday, November 21, 2008. It states that the Committee "is of the view that the facts as found by the Committee reveal a violations by the Philippines of article 2, paragraph 3 (the right of violated persons to effective remedies and the State ensuring that such remedies are provided and enforced); article 6, paragraph 1 (the right to life of every person); and article 9, paragraph 1 (the right to liberty and security of persons) of the Covenant."

The Committee further declared that the Philippine government "is under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy, including initiation and pursuit of criminal proceedings to establish responsibility for the kidnapping and death of the victims, and payment of appropriate compensation. The State party should also take measures to ensure that such violations do not recur in the future."

Further, the communication states, "the Committee wishes to receive from the State party, within 180 days, information about the measures taken to give effect to the Committee's Views. The State party is also requested to publish the Committee's Views.

Under the ICCPR's Optional Protocol, Mr. Orly Marcellana - husband of Eden Marcellana, then Secretary General of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog and Mr. Daniel Gumanoy, son of farmer leader Eddie Gumanoy - both represented by Karapatan National Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez, have filed their complaints with the UN Human Rights Committee on 9 March 2006 for the killing of the two human rights defenders and leaders of progressive organizations on April 21, 2003.

Atty. Edre Olalia, President of the International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL), assisted the victims' relatives and Karapatan in filing the said complaint.

The members of the UN Human Rights Committee who participated in the examination of the complaint are: Mr. Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati, Ms. Christine Chanet, Mr. Maurice Glèlè Ahanhanzo, Mr. Yuji Iwasawa, Ms. Helen Keller, Mr. Ahmed Tawfik Khalil, Mr. Rajsoomer Lallah, Mr. Michael O'Flaherty, Ms. Elizabeth Palm, Mr. Rafael Rivas Posada, Sir Nigel Rodley and Mr. Ivan Shearer.

The UN Human Rights Committee findings came out at a time that Mr. Orly Marcellana, husband of slain human rights worker Eden Marcellana is himself presently the subject of political persecution in the country. ###