May 7, 2017
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, via Viber 0917-3162831 or through Facebook messenger of Tinay Palabay
Karapatan urges UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard to probe extrajudicial killings, in line with counter-insurgency program and war vs drugs
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary Killings or Arbitrary Executions, Ms. Agnes Callamard, recently made an unofficial visit to the country and spoke in a forum about perspectives on drug policies at the University of the Philippines on May 5, 2017.
“We agree with Ms. Callamard that the current policy on the war on drugs is lacking in addressing the socio-economic causes of the illegal drug trade. Policy alternatives should be explored to formulate programs which prioritizes people’s rights, framed within the structural causes of poverty. The ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is a platform to formulate comprehensive social, economic and political reforms, including those in relation to this problem,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Palabay underscored that extra-judicial killings done in the course of US-driven counterinsurgency programs, many of human rights defenders, likewise merit the attention of Callamard. She said that “these programs, implemented across regimes, supposedly seeks to end armed rebellion yet have victimized thousands of Filipinos in peasant and indigenous communities, with attacks on civilians and members of progressive organizations legitimized as them being ‘enemies of the State’.”
Callamard’s predecessor, Prof. Philip Alston, emphasized the rescinding of counter-insurgency programs as a step towards putting a stop to extrajudicial killings, in his 2007 report to the UN Human Rights Council. According to Palabay, Alston’s recommendations remained largely unheeded, if not totally ignored by the Arroyo and Aquino regimes, and no State perpetrator has been brought to justice. “The impunity by which extrajudicial killings were committed since Martial Law and the disregard of the Alston Report are among the reasons why EJKs, in line with the counter-insurgency campaign and the war on drugs, continue,” Palabay stated.
On April 10, 2017, Karapatan submitted a letter of allegation to Callamard, along with documentation of the forty-seven (47) victims of EJKs in the Philippines under the Duterte administration, in line with Oplan Kapayapaan, the continuing counter-insurgency program of the government. Karapatan also sent an earlier communication to Callamard on November 7, 2016, urging her to investigate the politically motivated killings. Rise Up, a campaign network against drug-related killings of which Karapatan is part of, is also set to file cases of killings in line with the administration’s war on drugs to the UN.
Karapatan also forwarded letters of allegation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michael Forst, with regard to the killing of thirty-three (33) human rights defenders documented by the organization from July 2016 to March 2017.
“We urge concerned UN Special Rapporteurs to likewise look into the continuing attacks on peasant and indigenous communities, as well as attacks on activists and human rights defenders. It is our hope that the gravity of these rights abuses will engage and convince the Duterte administration to veer away from militarist policies, implement pro-people programs, withdraw its counterinsurgency program, prosecute violators among the State’s security forces, and pursue efforts in attaining just and lasting peace,” Palabay concluded.
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.