Philippines: Ensure prompt, thorough investigations of latest attacks against human rights defenders


1 L AMNESTY INTERNATIONA PUBLIC STATEMENT 9 ASA 35/0308/2019 May 201 3 ENSURE PHILIPPINES: THOROUGH INVESTIGATI ON OF PROMPT, ATTACKS AGAINST HUMA N RIGHTS DEFENDERS LATEST is deeply alarm ed Amnesty International the recent escalation of attacks against human rights defenders and by activists in the Philippines . On 1 May, Archad Ayao, an investigator for the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, was shot dead in Cotabato City, southern Philippines, by a still unidentified gunm an. On 22 April, human rights worker and local politician Bernardino Patigas was gunned down in Escalante City, Negros Occidental . H ours later, several of his colleagues -- including Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay -- received threatening text message s from an unknown person warning them that they are likewise targeted to be killed this year. egitimization efforts that could Besides direct physical violence, human rights defenders have faced del put them in In March, military officials linked the . , Victoria danger UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples - Corpuz Tauli to the alleged “terrorist activities” of the Communist Party of the Philippines , in a seeming attempt to , undermine her human rights wo rk. As this case exemplifies, government officials ha ve exposed numerous defenders - and activists a greater risk of attacks by “ red to tagging ” them – i. e., linking them to C ommunist armed groups, or to their peaceful criticism of government policies. tagged” by based on terrorist activities, - Groups that have been “red the government include Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, think tank Ibon Foundation, and the - National Union of People’s Lawyers which has been giving le gal assistance to political prisoners, activists, and relatives of victims of extrajudicial executions. human rights defenders come amidst a deteriorating human rights situation. Over the past three The attacks against thousands of Filipinos, mostly from poor and marginalized communities, have been killed by police in the name years, of the government’s ongoing “war on drugs . ” T he killings continue on a daily basis despite domestic and international the condemnatio H uman rights defenders who have been calling for accountability and an end to n. killings have been subjected to sustained harassment via the criminal justice system . They include Senator Leila de Lima, who has been motivated drug charges; news outlet Rappler and its CEO Maria held in detention for over two years on politically - publicly Ressa , facing 11 legal complaints , and several other journalists and human rights lawyers who have been accused of working to destabilize the government. Philippine authorities are The obligated to take action to protect human rights defenders under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is a state party. The ICCPR requires states parties to uphold and protect individuals’ rights to lif freedom e [Article 6(1)], freedom of expression [Article 19(2)], of assembly [Article 21], and equal protection under the law [Article 26], and requires states parties to provide effective remedies when individuals’ rights are violated [Article 2(3)]. Amne sty International calls on the Philippine government to conduct prompt, effective, and imp artial investigations into the attacks on human rights defenders, and to bring those responsible to justice in fair trials. The authorities and government officials s hould also desist from making pronouncements that disparage the valuable and necessary work , of human rights defenders , actively protect human rights defenders from harm and ensure an environment that is safe and supportive for them advocacy. to carry out their BACKGROUND 1 May , Archad Ayao, a human rights investigator from the Regional Human Rights Commission of the Bangsamoro On Atonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was shot dead by a still unidentified gunman in Cotabato City. Police were looking into whether the killing was connected to the human rights cases in the southern Philippines that Ayao had been investigating . On 22 April, human rights defender and local politician Bernardino Patigas was gunned down as he was leaving an election - related acti vity in Escalante City, Negros Occidental. He was the founder of North Negros Alliance for Human organization of the human rights alliance Karapatan. Hours after he was murdered, - Rights Advocates, a member the , Cristina Palabay general of Karapatan, received a text message expressing condolences over the death - secretary Amnesty International Public Statement 1 1

2 -- and several other individuals -- all human rights workers of Patigas, and warning her that they are also targeted to be killed this year. UN Special On 13 March, an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Major Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr, accused - with d of the Communist Party Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli Corpuz of being affiliate the Philippines (CPP) and its alleged “terrorist activities . ” Before this, in July last year, a Manila court ordered the - Philippine Department of Justice to remove Tauli Corpuz and three other people from its petition to declare the C P P a names The petition, which originally named over 600 alleged “terrorists ation. terrorist organiz ,” is now down to eight . and is still being heard in court Amnesty International Public Statement 2

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