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Impunity for Journalist Murders Reigns in the Philippines

November 23, 2012

Impunity for Journalist Murders Reigns in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates the national Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) today in commemorating the third anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre in the Philippines and marks the International Day of Impunity by calling on governments from around the region to take immediate action to end impunity in the Asia Pacific.

The 2009 massacre, which saw 58 people including 32 journalists and media workers brutally murdered, is known as the world’s single biggest atrocity against journalists. The date was declared as the International Day to End Impunity in 2010.

As part of a joint campaign, on November 22nd the NUJP and the IFJ sent a delegation to meet with the Philippines Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and present a joint letter, addressed to President Aquino, which highlighted the lack of justice in the massacre trial and the situation of impunity in the Philippines.

Of the 153 journalists murdered in the Philippines since 1986, 14 have been murdered during President Aquino's term of office.

During the meeting, the NUJP and IFJ called on the government of the Philippines to fulfil its positive obligations under international law and to live up to the commitments made by President Aquino’s during his inauguration to take action against impunity. The delegation represented the victims’ families need for transparent justice and the urgent need for an end to the protracted court hearings.

The IFJ and NUJP urged the Administration to prosecute those involved in the massacre and put an end to the protracted court case before the 2013 elections. It was the culture of impunity that created the environment in which the Ampatuan massacre took place before the 2009 election.

More than 1000 days after the massacre, 99 of the 197 suspects remain free. Of the 81 police, militiamen and government officials arraigned for the crime, only two are Ampatuans. Witnesses have been murdered and there have been no convictions.

Today, in a show of solidarity, journalists, press freedom advocates and families of the slain victims of the Ampatuan Massacre led a processional march of 153 coffins through the Welcome Rotunda in Quezon City to Mendiola, Manila, each bearing the name of a journalist killed in the massacre. A funeral procession is also being held in General Santos City with six coffins paraded around the city, to the Forest Lake Memorial Park, where most of the victims were laid to rest.

Union affiliates and partners from around the region joined in solidarity to commemorate the anniversary of the massacre today and call for an end to impunity. In Australia, Journalists and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance ACT branch president, today met with the Philippines Ambassador in Canberra to present a letter from the Alliance calling for the Philippines government to take action against impunity and members of The South Asia Media Solidarity Network Members presented letters to the Philippines embassies throughout the region calling for action.

The IFJ stands alongside the NUJP today to demand that the government of the Philippines fulfil its obligations under international law and to ensure that justice is expedited in a transparent manner to send a clear signal that violence against media workers, and defenders of free expression will not be tolerated.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

ENDS

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