Philippines’ Compliance with UN Reporting Tasks Poor, Says AI

It does not look good. This was how the Southeast Asia Team of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International (AI) assessed the Philippines’ record on reporting obligations to United Nations (UN) treaty bodies.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat.com

It does not look good. This was how the Southeast Asia Team of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International (AI) assessed the Philippines’ record on reporting obligations to United Nations (UN) treaty bodies.

Ryan Schlief of the AI Southeast Asia Team based in London made this observation in an e-mail interview with Bulatlat. Schlief gave Bulatlat the following figures on the Philippine government’s compliance with reporting obligations to UN treaty bodies:

The fulfillment of these reporting obligations is one of the demands carried by AI���s ongoing global campaign against political killings in the Philippines, Schlief said.

Aside from that, Schlief said, the campaign will also try to realize several of the recommendations made in AI’s recent report, Philippines: Political Killings, Human Rights and the Peace Process. Released on Aug. 15, the report makes the following recommendations: reassertion of respect for human rights, guaranteeing of the administration of justice, government with its Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and the mobilization of other human rights mechanisms.

“At the UN, in particular, the Philippines has committed – in presenting its candidature to the newly established Human Rights Council – to supporting the UN special procedures at the international level, and to encourage civil society in the Philippines to utilize UN human rights mechanisms,” Schlief added.

“In light of these commitments, and the fact that the Philippines has already agreed to visits by the special rapporteurs on poverty and on housing, AI urges the government to also facilitate visits by special rapporteurs on issues of particular relevance to the current human rights situation in the Philippines – in particular the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, the Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders and the representatives of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Such experts play a constructive, positive role and draw on their experiences from different contexts around the world to analyse and propose solutions to enhance effective respect for human rights.”

Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) has documented a total of 744 extra-judicial killings during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s five years thus far in office – or an average of 149 every year. This is higher than the average for the 20-year rule of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, for which various human rights groups recorded 1,500 extra-judicial killings all in all or an average of 75 a year.

Of the victims of extra-judicial killings under the Arroyo administration, at least 300 are confirmed to have been affiliated with cause-oriented groups.

“In the series of AI reports issued about the Philippines over the years, a common message has come through: a gap exists between the human rights protection provided for by law and what is actually delivered in practice,” Schlief said when asked what led AI to take up the issue of political killings in the Philippines.

“Individuals and organizations, including faith-based communities, non-governmental organizations, journalists, lawyers, families of the victims and survivors and many others had been reporting these political killings,” Schlief added. “AI began to analyse and monitor these reports and several commonalities came out of the analysis. The results became the recent campaign and report.”

In the light of all these, what are AI’s observations on the Philippine government’s failure to transmit to its Senate for ratification the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which it signed on Dec. 28, 2002 – due to pressure from the U.S.?

“The Prosecutor of the ICC can only initiate an investigation where the crime has been committed in the territory of a state party to the Statute or the accused person is a citizen of a state party to the Statute, unless the Security Council refers a situation to the Court,” Schlief said. “The reluctance of the Security Council to establish ad hoc international criminal tribunals suggests that it is not likely to refer many situations to the Court. Therefore, to a great extent, the Court’s effectiveness will be measured by how many states ratify the Statute.”

The AI recently hogged the headlines after issuing a report on the extrajudicial executions in the Philippines citing cases where the Arroyo government’s security forces were involved. The rights watchdog’s office in the United States (or AI-USA) has also asked President Bush to pressure Arroyo to stop the killings. (Bulatlat.com)

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