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Phillippines: Human Rights Report for 2013



(Hong Kong, December 8, 2013)

On the occasion of the Human Rights Day, 2013, the Philippine Desk of the Asian Human Rights Commission has produced a 19 page report detailing the prevailing situation in the country.

This year's report is entitled, 'License' to torture, kill and to silence the oppressed' and gives numerous examples of the human rights abuses by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the armed forces. Such abuses include illegal arrest and detention, disappearance of arrestees, torture and, in many cases, in order to justify their illegal actions, the fabrication of charges.

Areas of serious concern are the reprisals against journalists who report on such abuses. Activists working to assist victims of human rights abuses have been shot dead in broad daylight, on many occasions in full view of their loved ones, and the authorities have allowed the assassins to abscond. Indigenous people are attacked for standing up for their rights to farm hereditary land. With much of the arable farm land being handed over to international companies, little or no attention is being paid to the families who have been dispossessed. The government is good at making promises but in the end very little is done to assist the victims.

The siege in Zamboanga and attacks on civilians, medical personnel and hostage taking is also covered in this report. This concerns the renewed fighting between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), under the faction of Nur Misuari. The siege has resulted in the massive displacement of 26,000 families who were forced to live in evacuation centers or with their relatives. The report states:

The siege in Zamboanga city and the renewed fighting in other parts of Mindanao clearly shows the vulnerability of civilians and their communities, medical personnel, and others not taking part in the hostilities, from being targeted in attacks.

An issue which is prevalent in all the situations and incidents mentioned in this report is the prevalence of impunity, which is deeply systemic. While it is true that we are now seeing perpetrators of torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances appearing in court this is an exception and not the norm. The government of the Philippines has a long way to go in order to ensure the freedom to enjoy human rights in the country.

The report may be seen here.


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