By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Asia
MANILA, Philippines – The European Commission has acknowledged that the number of extrajudicial killings have decreased and more cases are prosecuted, but at the same time, there have been no convictions. Human Rights Watch [HRW] asks that the United Nations should review the Philippine’s government’s failure to hold responsible parties accountable.
The European Union and the Philippine government have pledged to create the EU Justice Assistance Mission [EUJAM], which will help strengthen the country’s criminal justice system. The 18-month program will help build ties between the criminal justice institutions, civil society, and independent agencies like the Commission on Human Rights and the Office of Ombudsman.
The European Commission head of delegation, Alistair MacDonald, said, “We will provide the Philippine government technical assistance in conducting investigation, forensics, training for the judiciary, the Commission on Human Rights and we will even coordinate with members of the civil society.”
For the last 7 years, nearly a thousand members of the left-wing political parties, activists, journalists, and clergy have gone missing or been killed. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, Philippine human rights groups, and HRW all have strong evidence of military involvement in the disappearances and murders.
The Philippine government has said that it is a priority to address the extrajudicial killings and disappearances by bringing the perpetrators to justice and prevent future killings. The government also reported that the number of killings had dropped significantly in 2007.
Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at HRW, pointed out that the drop in killings is only one improvement. She said, “A pause in political killings will mean little in the long run unless those responsible are prosecuted. Of the hundreds of political killings since 2001, not a single military official has been convicted.”
For more information, please see:
HRW – Philippines: Justice Absent in Killings and ‘Disappearances’ – 27 March 2008
The Inquirer – ‘More Prosecutions but No Convictions on Extrajudicial Slays’ – 4 April 2008
The Manila Times – EU, Philippines to Work on Extrajudicial Killings – 5 April 2008