Posted by: nupl | December 11, 2007


December 10, 2007

Press Release

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) seeks to highlight today – the 59th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the state of impunity that prevails over the country.

Nearly nine hundred people have been killed as a result of extrajudicial executions since Pres. Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001, and not one of the real perpetrators has been convicted nor punished. One hundred eighty-three people have disappeared and remain missing to this day, and the Philippine government persists in obstructing the search of the families of the victims for any information on the fate or whereabouts of these desaparecidos.

While the Arroyo administration pays lip service to the promotion of human rights, its actions show that human rights are honored more in their breach, as proven in many examples. In fact, Mrs. Arroyo has never categorically stated that she does not approve of the acts of her security forces and that they will be punished if they are involved in these violations. Worse, she and her police and military officials have deflected the responsibility for such acts. The Armed Forces of the Philippines dismissed the Report of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston as biased reporting, without even explaining why Mr. Alston would write a scathing report on the state of human rights in the Philippines and lodge the blame on the military. After the Supreme Court promulgated the rules on the Writ of Amparo, Pres. Arroyo then promulgated Administrative Order 97 aimed at rendering the Writ of Amparo ineffective. Meanwhile, the generals charged by the victims as human rights violators get promoted and are rewarded by the Arroyo administration.

Government Obligation

The Philippines swore before the international community in 1948 to defend, protect and promote human rights. Due to her utter failure to uphold human rights, Pres. Arroyo is liable for violating Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] which provides that:

Article 2
(3). Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:

(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;

(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, x x x and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;

(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.

The Arroyo administration has even hypocritically pledged to promote, protect and defend human rights when it zealously sought membership in the United Nation Human Rights Council, obviously to smokescreen and deodorize its horrible human rights records. But the facts as validated by various national and international entities have demonstrated that it deserves rebuke rather than approval.

Withdrawal of the Spanish Award for Human Rights

Pres. Arroyo, who continues to maintain a policy of repression against all forms of opposition, not only failed to prosecute human rights violators, but is also directly responsible for human rights violations. The international community should censure the Arroyo government for its failure to live up to its obligation under international law rather than ‘award’ her with medals despite her appalling human rights record. The NUPL therefore condemns the “human rights” award given to Pres. Arroyo by the Alcala de Henares University and calls on the Spanish people to repudiate this callous award and demand its withdrawal. Such awards only encourage the impunity that prevails in the country today.

The International Criminal Court

The NUPL also takes this occasion to condemn Pres. Arroyo’s continued refusal to submit the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to the Senate for concurrence in its ratification. The Rome Statute, one of the most important treaties after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is mandated by the international community to arrest and imprison human rights violators from countries who are “unwilling or unable” to prosecute these violators. Philippine membership in the ICC is another legal mechanism against impunity as it provides justice to victims who cannot find justice in their own countries.

In light of the systematic human rights violations under the Arroyo administration, the NUPL – a nationwide organization of human rights lawyers, law students, and paralegals – vows to maintain vigilance and urges members of the legal profession to help in the prosecution of human rights violators and fight the impunity that continues to plague the country. #

Reference: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares – Secretary-General


Read the article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Arroyo slammed for slays”



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