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Philippines

    November 07, 2018

    Amnesty International Philippines Release

    Responding to news of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos gunned down by still unidentified men on 6 November, Amnesty International Philippines chairperson Ritz Lee Santos III said:

    “The killing of a human rights lawyer is a new low in the worsening culture of impunity in the Philippines, and yet another blow to the government’s already dismal human rights record.

    Ramos’s murder is all the more alarming, in the midst of the bloody ‘war on drugs’ by the government that has already claimed the lives of thousands of people. When human rights defenders are silenced for good, who else will come to the defense of the growing number of victims of human rights abuses?

    September 28, 2018

    Responding to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that his “only sin is extrajudicial killings” made during a speech at the presidential palace, later dismissed as “playful” by his spokesperson, Minar Pimple, Senior Director for Global Operations at Amnesty International, said:

    “This apparent admission by the President himself highlights the urgent need for international investigations into the thousands of killings and other human rights violations committed in the name of the government’s ‘war on drugs’, which has claimed the lives of thousands of mostly poor and marginalized people.

    “Duterte’s statement should be of interest to the ICC as it looks into complaints of crimes against humanity filed against him. Victims’ families and several groups, including Amnesty International, have found strong evidence supporting the call for an international probe. This ‘playful’ comment is a grotesque cruelty at best, and a damning indictment of his government’s murderous campaign at worst. This is no time to be ‘playful’: the killings have to stop.

    September 27, 2018

    Experience: No experience required. Interest in, and knowledge of, human rights issues in the Philippines is helpful. Training and mentorship will be provided.
    Location: Anywhere in Canada. Work is done primarily online.
    Commitment: 1 year minimum, 5 hours per week requested.

    Amnesty Canada’s work on the Philippines is currently primarily coordinated by a volunteer working from Winnipeg, with guidance and support provided by staff members in Amnesty International (AI). The current volunteer “Philippines Coordinator” is responsible for a large volume of work on human rights issues in the Philippines. If Amnesty Canada had another volunteer or two interested in working on the Philippines, this would reduce the pressure on the current Philippines Coordinator and also allow Amnesty Canada to expand our campaigning work and organizing capacity on human rights issues in the Philippines.

    September 25, 2018

    Responding to the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in the Philippines, Minar Pimple, Senior Director for Global Operations at Amnesty International, said:

    “Senator Trillanes is one of the most vocal and persistent members of the opposition and has consistently challenged the government's so-called 'war on drugs'.

    “This arrest is a worrying sign that the government will stop at nothing to silence its critics and divert attention from ongoing human rights violations by the authorities.

    “The arrest of Senator Trillanes follows the imprisonment of another opponent of President Duterte, Senator Leila de Lima, who is a prisoner of conscience and remains in detention on politically motivated charges, after more than a year. It is time the government stopped its crackdown on peaceful critics and put an end to human rights violations.”

    Background

    July 23, 2018

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte today attacked critics of his deadly ‘war on drugs’, telling human rights activists: “your concern is human rights, mine is human lives” and promising the continuation of a “relentless and chilling” campaign. In response, Rachel Chhoa Howard, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher, said:

    “Thousands of people in the Philippines have died as a direct result of President Duterte’s murderous policies, which have mostly targeted the country’s poorest people. Duterte’s claim to be a defender of human life is an insult to the families of these victims, especially coming after his public vow to continue the killings.

    “The right to life is a human right and the distinction President Duterte is trying to draw is completely false. While human rights groups have decried the thousands of extrajudicial executions carried out in the guise of an anti-drugs campaign, President Duterte has bragged about the slaughter and actively incited more violence.

    March 16, 2018

    Jerryme Corre is back home in Angeles City, Pampanga with his wife and step children after 6 years behind bars in the Philippines on false drug charges. Jerryme was subjected to ruthless torture at the hands of police in 2012 after being falsely arrested while visiting his aunt’s house on his day off. He was rushed by more than ten armed police officers in plainclothes, who beat him in the street before taking him back to a police station. There, they beat the soles of his feet with a wooden baton, removed his shorts and used them to suffocate him, ‘waterboarded’ him and zapped him with electric wires for hours. During his interrogation, they repeatedly called him by the wrong name. Eventually an official arrived to identify him and told police they had arrested the wrong man, but they charged him anyway, and forced him to sign a confession that he wasn’t allowed to read. Despite a court ruling in 2016 that he had been tortured by police, the drug charges against him were not dropped and he was forced to remain in jail until March 2nd, 2018 when a motion to dismiss his case was granted due to lack of evidence.

    March 14, 2018

    Responding to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court today (ICC), Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific James Gomez said:

    “This is a misguided and deeply regrettable move by President Duterte, and the latest signal that powerful individuals in the Philippines are more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings than they are in ensuring justice for the many victims of the country’s brutal ‘war on drugs’.

    “Fortunately for those victims, Duterte’s announced withdrawal comes too late to stop the ICC’s preliminary examination and the Philippines’ obligations towards the court.

    “Duterte cannot stop international accountability in the Philippines simply by deleting his signature from the Rome Statute.

    “If the Philippines truly believed that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the country, they should challenge that in the proper way – which is at the ICC. Instead, they have taken the cowardly option of trying to evade justice.”

     

    February 23, 2018

    The Philippines authorities must immediately drop all charges and release prisoner of conscience Senator Leila de Lima, an outspoken critic of President Duterte who has been jailed on politically motivated drug charges, Amnesty International said ahead of the anniversary of her arrest.

    Senator Leila de Lima was arrested on 24 February 2017 on three separate spurious charges under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. In the lead up to her arrest, President Duterte and other supporters had led a vicious campaign of harassment and intimidation against the Senator and falsely tried to implicate her in the drug trade.

    "The charges against Senator Leila de Lima are pure fiction. She has been singled out and targeted for nothing but her courageous opposition to President Duterte's appalling policies. We consider her to be a prisoner of conscience and urge the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally," said James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    January 30, 2018

    Responding to the news that police have resumed their role in implementing the so-called “war on drugs” declared by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez said:

    “Since President Duterte came to power, police have unlawfully killed thousands of people, the vast majority of them from poor and marginalised communities, in attacks so extensive and brutal they may well amount to crimes against humanity. Now that police are once more returning to the forefront of anti-drug operations, the government must make sure that there is no repeat of the bloodshed seen during the past 18 months.

    “To date, police have been allowed to operate in a culture of almost total impunity. It is a positive step by the Department of Justice to file murder charges against three police officers accused of killing Kian Loyd delos Santos, the teenager whose death is emblematic of the horrors of the ‘war on drugs.’ But independent investigations must cover each of the thousands of other unlawful killings, and all perpetrators, including those in positions of command, must be held to account.

    January 15, 2018

    Reacting to the news that the Philippines authorities have ordered the closure of the independent media outlet Rappler, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “The moves by the Philippines authorities to shut down Rappler is an alarming attempt to silence independent journalism. The government must immediately reverse this decision and end all efforts to stifle free press in the country.

    “This is a politically motivated decision, pure and simple, and just the latest attempt to go after anyone who dares to criticise the government. Rappler has been fearless in holding those in power to account, including by consistently criticising the government’s murderous ‘war on drugs’. It has faced persistent harassment by government supporters and even the President himself.

    “The Philippines government should focus on ending and investigating violations, mostly against poor communities, in the ‘war on drugs’, not trying to silence the messenger.”

    Background

    December 13, 2017

    Responding to the Philippine Congress’ approval of President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in the southern region of Mindanao until the end of 2018 in order to “eradicate” Islamist militants, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez, said:

    “Civilians in Mindanao have faced unlawful killings, destruction of their homes, ill-treatment and numerous other human rights abuses at the hands of Philippine armed forces and Islamist militants since the imposition of martial law. The length of this latest extension, until the end of 2018, is an ominous move that almost certainly signals further abuses in the months ahead.

    “Violations in the battle of Marawi, in northern Mindanao, have been carried out with impunity, while there has been a disturbing rise in killings of human rights defenders and political activists across the region in recent months.

    “President Duterte, who is already responsible for thousands of unlawful killings in his so-called ‘war on drugs’, must not use martial law as a pretext to commit further violations in Mindanao without any accountability.

    December 05, 2017

    Responding to the news that President Duterte has ordered the police to resume their role in supporting his administration’s so-called “war on drugs,” James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “In returning police to his anti-drug operations yet again, President Duterte has consigned the poorest and most marginalised people in the Philippines to another catastrophic wave of violence, misery and bloodshed.

    “Since the police were withdrawn from anti-drug operations in October, there has been a marked decline in the number of deaths resulting from these operations. We can only expect that to reverse, as the police have the opportunity to pick up where they left off and resume their indiscriminate killing with impunity.

    November 17, 2017

    Civilians on the island of Mindanao paid a high price with dozens killed and widespread destruction of homes and property amid the ‘battle of Marawi’ that pitted the Philippine military against militants allied to the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) between May and October this year, Amnesty International said in a report today.

    The ‘Battle of Marawi’: Death and destruction in the Philippines is the first detailed human rights analysis of the conflict, based on a research trip to Lanao del Sur, Mindanao in September. It documents how IS-allied militants targeted Christian civilians for the worst of the abuses, including at least 25 extrajudicial killings, mass hostage-taking, and extensive looting of civilian property.

    Philippine armed forces, meanwhile, detained and ill-treated fleeing civilians, and also engaged in looting. Their extensive bombing of militant-held areas of Marawi city wiped out entire neighbourhoods and killed civilians, highlighting the need for an investigation into its compliance with international humanitarian law. 

    September 06, 2017

    Responding to the discovery of the body in Gapan City of Reynaldo de Guzman, a 14-year-old boy who had been missing for nearly three weeks, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez, said:

    “How many more children must die in the Philippines to end this horrific and heartless violence? Reynaldo de Guzman’s family has had to endure the anxiety of his disappearance followed by the unimaginable grief of discovering his body with stab wounds and his head wrapped in packing tape. This is not an isolated case or a mistake, but the latest atrocity in a wave of unlawful killings that has claimed the lives of more than 50 children and thousands of other Filipinos.

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