Karapatan’s Enriquez reports to UNHRC on the continuing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines

Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday afternoon in Geneva (September 24, at 11PM Philippine time), Karapatan Secretary General Marie Hilao-Erniquez reported that the killings have not stopped and that “the measures implemented by the Philippine government did not and will not resolve the killings.”

Enriquez said that from January to July 2007, there were 60 cases of extrajudicial executions and that from January to June 2007 there were 17 cases of disappearances, 12 cases of torture, 113 cases of illegal arrests and thousands became victims of forced evacuation.

Karapatan attributes the unabated human rights violations to the two underlying causes already pointed out by Prof. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajdicial Killings, who visited the Philippines in February this year and issued his initial report in March.

Enriquez said, “The Arroyo government to this day continues with the ‘vilification’ of most groups on the left of the political spectrum as ‘front organizations’ for the armed groups thereby rendering such groups to be accordingly considered to be legitimate targets.”

The second cause identified by Alston and is still presently in effect are the aspects of the “Government’s counter-insurgency strategy that encourage or facilitate the extrajudicial killings of activists and other ‘enemies’ in certain circumstances.”

Enriquez, who spoke on behalf of the entire Philippine NGO delegation, including Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, told the UNHRC “Mrs. Burgos and other members of our NGO delegation made the long trip here to Geneva to beseech this Council to prevail upon the Philippine government to make good its commitments in the pledges it made to the General Assembly when it sought reelection to this Council in May of this year.”

Enriquez also called to mind the declaration of martial law in the Philippines 35 years ago on September 21 and said that “the impunity by which violations were committed by state security forces at that time continues to this day even as martial law survivors have not been recognized and indemnified by this administration which just made promises to do so.”

Calling on the attention of the UNHRC, Enriquez said, “Our country has long been depicted as a democracy in Southeast Asia and as such it must be compelled to adhere to human rights standards and international humanitarian laws. It must resolve cases of human rights violations and render justice to victims. We hope that the Human Rights Council bears this record in mind when the Philippine government is reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review.”

The statement made by Enriquez before the UNHRC was supported by the World Council of Churches, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.###


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