Category — CHRP Newsletter
Picking up from last year’s meeting which was supposed to be our AGM (but was postponed due to low turnout), let’s all agree on the next meeting, hopefully to hold an AGM (or schedule/agree on a date), or to at least discuss our plans for this year, considering the imminent international HR conference in the Philippines tentatively set in July.
Please can you let me know asap which of the following dates work for you :
Feb 3, 9,10,111
6.00pm, UNISON Centre
Look forward to hear from you.
Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines CHRP UK
c/o Indigenous Peoples Links, Finspace, 225-229 Seven Sisters Road
London N4 2DA
T: 0207 263 1002
January 27, 2016 No Comments
The past year in the Philippines has served as a reminder that the election of a president promising reform does not guarantee reform. President Aquino condemned human rights violations in the Philippines and pledged to bring justice to the victims of the ‘Maguindanao massacre’ – since he has come to office Human Rights Watch has documented seven extrajudicial killings and three enforced disappearances in which there is strong evidence of military involvement, and there has been little progress in the prosecuting of the perpetrators of the 58 murders in Mindanao or the many other cases of death and disappearance that wait to be resolved.
These examples serve to highlight problems in the Philippine political and legal systems which if not tackled will result in more deaths and disappearances – if following previous trends, of those who simply campaign for better lives – and the impunity of those who are responsible for them.
It is clear that there remains a need for far greater civilian control of a more professionalised military, which itself must be better educated on human rights and held to account by the courts. Breaking the dependency of national government on provincial trapos is another necessity – the manner in which such regional elites are given unremitting support by central government due to their ability to win elections or fight insurgencies highlights systemic flaws in the political system. Again, a well-funded military under firm public control would do away with the need for private militias and the well-understood risks of allowing provincial rulers to amass private armies. Here, the issue of tackling insurgencies comes to the fore – it is clear that force alone will not defeat the government’s enemies, and it is well understood that in the case of both communist and Islamic separatist conflicts, poverty in Mindanao – the country’s breadbasket – is a key driver. The government attitude of no development without peace first thus presents a conundrum which must be broached.
Underscoring all these issues is the need for deep and wide reforms to the criminal justice system – an issue CHRP has chosen to highlight this year. Believing that there is no punishment for crime only serves to incentivise would-be criminals. Here, Maguindanao must be seen as a test case setting an example to would be human rights violators. As Detlev Mehlis – head of the now ended EU-Philippines Justice Support Programme – tells CHRP in an interview in this newsletter, the criminal justice system is in “desperate need” of reform, from the police, through to prosecutors and criminal procedures. And in this, civil society has a role to play. Ultimately, though, it is government which must take the lead. As Mehlis tells CHRP, “while civil society plays a most important role in creating awareness and observing the government, functioning courts, an effective and determined prosecution service and an effective police respected by the people can only be implemented by the elected political institutions”. And here Mehlis says there must be a “much bigger effort and more determination” than he saw when in the Philippines.
We remain hopeful that President’s Aquino will act with the determination that he promised. And where he does not, CHRP will be there to remind him of what needs to be done.
November 17, 2011 1 Comment
CHRP is marking two years since the “Maguindanao massacre” with an event supported by Amnesty International UK, UNISON and the International Federation of Journalists, focusing on the killings and the need for judicial reform for prosecuting human rights violations in the Philippines.
On November 23, two years to the day from the 2009 killing of 58 people in Maguindanao, Filipino lawyer and journalist, Carlos Zarate, Stefan Antor, a judge formerly of the European Union-Philippines Justice Support Programme (EPJUST), Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists, and CHRP UK chair Mark Dearn will speak at “Never Forget”, at the Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre, London.
Since the party of 58 people – including 34 journalists – were murdered en route to filing Ismael Mangudadatu’s candidacy for mayoral elections, there have been no successful prosecutions. Former local ruling family the Ampatuans have been put on trial, but the process has been dogged by delays, while many of the 195 accused remain at large.
While the Maguindanao killings highlight the way in which provincial rulers needed by national government – whether to win elections or fight insurgencies – can act with disdain for human life and the rule of law, there remain a number of human rights abuses in which the military is culpable. Human Rights Watch documents seven extrajudicial killings and three enforced disappearances carried out by the military since President Aquino came to power in 2010, with no convictions.
This year also marks the end of the 18-month, E3.9 million, EPJUST project. Implemented to help improve institutional capability around investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of human rights violations, such overseas technical assistance initiatives should be actively encouraged by the government.
By examining the lack of progress in prosecuting the alleged perpetrators and in this and many other cases of human rights violations, CHRP urges the Philippine government to act on its commitment to stopping human rights abuses and help enable the successful prosecution of human rights abusers.
CHRP believes that the 58 killings in Maguindanao in 2009 were an expected outcome of a tacit policy of supporting provincial rulers and granting them immunity from the law – as highlighted by the legacy of killings, torture and abduction that have been documented to have occurred over the course of 20 years at the hands of the Ampatuans.
“The ‘Maguindanao massacre’ was a stark evocation of the culture of impunity around abuses of human rights in the Philippines,” said CHRP chair Mark Dearn. “The lack of progress made in prosecuting the killings is a reminder of the changes needed in the judicial system.
“Being a democracy goes far beyond holding elections. The Aquino government must act on its promises and initiate the reforms long-needed to create the fair and transparent political and legal systems that will best serve the Philippine people.
“President Aquino must bring an end to the culture of impunity around human rights violations that persists in the Philippines since his election. Perpetrators of such violations must be brought to justice, and the government must work hand-in-hand with the military, police, civil society and the legal establishment to this end.”
November 17, 2011 No Comments