50 cases of political killings brought to UN rights body
A rights advocacy group has brought to a UN office nearly 50 documented cases of political killings under the Duterte administration that took place despite the government’s peace negotiations with communist rebels.
Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights said it submitted on April 10 to Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the case files on 47 victims of extrajudicial killings in the government’s counterinsurgency campaign.
The killings took place from July 1 last year when President Duterte assumed office to the end of March.
The victims were peasants, indigenous peoples and workers who were killed by military or military agents for defending people’s rights, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay wrote Callamard.
“Under [the] Duterte [administration] from July 2016 to March 31, 2017, a total of 47 cases of extrajudicial killings were documented by Karapatan. We allege that state security forces are responsible for these killings that happened even when the Duterte [administration] has resumed the long-stalled formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Aug. 21, 2016, and the government declaration of unilateral ceasefire with the New People’s Army,” Palabay said.
She noted that the political killings and other rights abuses escalated after Mr. Duterte lifted the government’s unilateral ceasefire and canceled the government-NDFP peace talks on Feb. 3, 2017.
Shortly thereafter, the Armed Forces of the Philippines declared an all-out war against the NPA,” she added.
Karapatan hopes its report is considered when the UN Human Rights Council conducts the third cycle of the universal periodic review of the human rights situation in the Philippines.
During that process, the country’s human rights record over the past four years of the Aquino administration and the first months of the Duterte administration will be examined by other states.
Palabay said that Karapatan was working with other groups in documenting cases of extrajudicial killings related to the antidrug campaign and that it would submit these cases to the United Nations.
Karapatan said it had submitted documentation of 1,206 cases of political killings during the Arroyo administration and 334 such cases under the Aquino administration.
“These killings are all in the context of the counterinsurgency programs implemented from one regime to another,” Palabay said.
Karapatan asked the UN special rapporteur to investigate the cases and to recommend “appropriate actions,” such as underscoring the “gravity of political killings in the Philippines” to persuade the Duterte administration to prosecute the perpetrators and end its counterinsurgency program.
The group said it had submitted the same case files to the government peace panel.
Palabay said the group was also documenting cases of illegal arrests and illegal detention of civilians and activists, as well as forced evacuations and bombing of communities by the military.
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