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Philippines

    July 11, 2019

    Responding to the UN Human Rights Council voting in favour of a resolution to monitor and report on the critical human rights situation in the Philippines – including unlawful killings in the context of the “war on drugs” – Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia said:

    “This vote provides hope for thousands of bereaved families in the Philippines, and countless more Filipinos bravely challenging the Duterte administration’s murderous ‘war on drugs’. It’s a crucial step towards justice and accountability.

    “The Philippines has failed to hold those responsible to account at home. The Human Rights Council resolution sends a clear message that the international community will not look the other way as extrajudicial executions and other serious violations continue to be committed with impunity.

    July 08, 2019
    Extrajudicial executions by police remain rampant Scale of abuses reaches the threshold of crimes against humanity

    The wave of police killings triggered by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous anti-drugs campaign continues to rage on, destroying lives and devastating communities, a report by Amnesty International reveals today. The UN must immediately open an investigation into gross human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed as part of the “war on drugs.”

    The new report, ‘They just kill’: Ongoing extrajudicial executions and other violations in the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs,’ shows police operating with total impunity as they murder people from poor neighbourhoods whose names appear on manufactured “drug watch lists” established outside of any legal process.

    May 16, 2019

    Maria Ressa via Wikipedia.org

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 20/19 HERE

    On 14 May, Maria Ressa, human rights defender and executive editor of online news outlet Rappler, was formally charged in court for one count of cyber libel. 

    Arrested on 13 February on what appeared to be politically-motivated charges, she was released on bail after spending a night in jail. A month later, on 29 March, she was again arrested for allegedly violating the Philippines’ Anti-Dummy Law, which limits mass media ownership to Filipinos and Filipino-owned corporations. Ressa is also facing four counts of alleged tax-related violations for using financial mechanisms that Ressa argued are not taxable as these do not generate taxable income. The tax-related charges were brought against Maria Ressa and her company, Rappler Holdings Corp. in December 2018. All these charges remain pending in court. 

    March 04, 2019

    Authorities should investigate the arson attack on the house of Murdani, the executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) for West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Branch, identify the perpetrators and determine whether it was connected to his work as a human rights defender, Amnesty International Indonesia said today. This call follows Amnesty’s own investigation of the blaze’s aftermath, which revealed signs of an elaborate attack that may amount to an assassination attempt.

    “It has now been weeks since this terrifying fire, and authorities do not seem to be handling the case with any seriousness or urgency. Despite the many threats Murdani has received over the years in relation to his work, and even days before the blaze, the police have publicly mooted theories to cast a respected environmental activist in a negative light,” Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said.

    A fire engulfed the house in Menemeng village in Lombok, NTB, in the early hours of January 28, while Murdani, his wife, their four-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son were asleep.

    February 26, 2019

    Instead of doing her work as a senator, Leila de Lima has been unjustly jailed for two years so far in Camp Crame Custodial Center, a prison run by the police. ©NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

    DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

    This is a photo of Senator Leila de Lima, taken two years ago. She was waving to her supporters as she left a court in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. 

    Leila is her first name and De Lima is her last name. She is a senator who works with other citizens in the Senate to make the laws of the country. 

    Senator de Lima is famous in the Philippines and around the world, too. That’s because she has been brave enough to criticize the president of the Philippines for violating human rights. She has protested publicly about how terribly he treats his own citizens. And she disagrees strongly with how the president uses violence to fight the drug problem in the Philippines. 

    February 22, 2019

    Drop Politically Motivated Charges against Leila de Lima

    (Manila, February 22, 2019) -- The Philippine government should drop the politically-motivated charges against Senator Leila de Lima, a prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive “war on drugs,” Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FORUM-ASIA said today. De Lima has been arbitrarily detained inside the headquarters of the Philippine National Police since February 24, 2017, in violation of her constitutional rights as a sitting senator and in contravention of international human rights law.

    The arbitrary detention and mistreatment of Senator de Lima is emblematic of the deteriorating situation for all human rights defenders in the Philippines, the organizations said.

    February 13, 2019

    Responding to the arrest warrant served to Maria Ressa at the Rappler offices today on charges of ‘cyber libel’, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said:

    “Just days after the National Bureau of Investigation announced that it will indict Maria Ressa for cyber libel, a warrant for her arrest was served today. Amnesty International Philippines condemns the arrest based on a trumped-up libel charge. This is brazenly politically motivated, and consistent with the authorities’ threats and repeated targeting of Ressa and her team. Authorities should end this harassment, drop the charges, and repeal this repressive law.

    “In a country where justice takes years to obtain, we see the charges against her being railroaded and the law being used to relentlessly intimidate and harass journalists for doing their jobs as truth-tellers.”

    Background

    February 05, 2019

    Responding to news that the Philippines Senate may vote in favour of lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Global Operations, Minar Pimple, said:

    “This regressive law, if passed, will endanger children’s lives rather than reduce crime. Let’s remember that the so-called ‘war on drugs’ – in whose name this law was drafted – is a reckless war on the poor that has already left tens of thousands dead, including children.

    “Today the government takes another harsh step, by opening the door to the criminal prosecution of young children including for drug-related offences. In a climate where the police act as judge, jury and literally, executioner, this bill risks enabling further abuses of power.

    “The Philippine authorities claim the draft law is designed to rehabilitate children. If that was the goal, they would focus on fulfilling their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and existing juvenile welfare laws. The Philippine Senate should reject this deeply dangerous bill.”

    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.”

     

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