Int'l lawyers' group urges Philippines to end killings, rights abuses

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2017 08:42 PM

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers has called on the Philippine government to stop killings and rights abuses. Photo courtesy of Edre Olalia, National Union of People's Lawyers

MANILA - The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) on Thursday called upon the Philippine government to commit to end extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses.

In a resolution, the IADL said "several credible reports and documentation" show that human rights violations continue in the Philippines through extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, enforced disappearances, and internal displacement.

The IADL, an international organization of left-wing and progressive jurists' associations, has consultative status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

"According to various reports, the number of individuals suspected to be involved in illegal drugs who apparently fell victims to extrajudicial or summary killings during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte ranges from 8,000 to 12,000 dead," the resolution stated.

The resolution was reached following a 2-day bureau meeting in Vietnam attended by lawyers from several countries including the Philippines, United States, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, among others.

The IADL noted that Philippine police has reported 3,900 drug-related deaths as of October 2017. The figure is the official count released by the police force just as the administration repeatedly dismissed higher estimates by rights groups. 

The government has many times denied being behind summary killings and rights abuses, with officials saying those slain in drug raids had put up violent resistance. 

"On top of this, according to human rights groups, at least 88 persons, mostly farmers, have reportedly been slain on suspicion of supporting the rebel New People’s Army as of August 31, 2017," the resolution stated.

The organization is the latest international group to call on the Philippine government to take action against alleged human rights abuses. 

Earlier this month, United Nations human rights experts issued a joint statement urging the Philippine government to introduce measures to stop attacks and killings under Duterte's war on drugs and to bring perpetrators to justice.

RESUME PEACE TALKS WITH THE LEFT

The IADL also called on the Philippine government to resume peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

President Rodrigo Duterte had recently terminated peace talks with communist rebels following continued attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) on state troops.

Government officials and NDFP negotiators had 4 rounds of talks in Europe before Duterte suspended the negotiations last May.

In the same resolution, the IADL also urged the government to end illegal arrests, prosecute and end impunity of the perpetrators of human rights violations, ensure the protection of rights defenders, and respect international law.

The IADL also blasted Duterte for his statements against several high-ranking government officials including Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

"President Duterte has openly shown intolerance of criticism and dissent when he publicly attacked not only mass organizations and the opposition but also the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Commission on Human Rights, the Ombudsman, the media and even the President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippine for what he perceived to be statements critical of him or his human rights record," the resolution stated.