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Activists launch impunity campaign

Say Aquino administration nearing predecessor in rate of rights violations

Activists launch impunity campaign
Demonstrators rally in Manila in opposition to extrajudicial killings in the south

August 18, 2011

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More than 200 religious, activists and families of human rights victims gathered in Manila today to urge the government to stop the rampant killings and punish the previous administration for alleged crimes against the people. Members of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), Karapatan, Ecumenical Mission for Peace and Development and the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines  met today to launch the End Impunity Alliance at Adamson University. “While it is true that most of the ‘Morong 43’ where freed, many political prisoners are still languishing in jails. Victims of extra-judicial killings under [President Benigno] Aquino's administration have reached 48, with 5 victims of enforced disappearances. A human rights group has recorded 336 political prisoners being incarcerated in 63 jails throughout the country,” said Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan , co-chair of the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum and one of the conveners of the alliance. The groups launched the alliance after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reported to the House of Representatives that the number of torture victims rose from 17 in 2009 to 37 in 2010; arbitrary arrests rose from 61 in 2009 to 85 in 2010. CHR chief Loretta Ann Rosales admitted the number could even be higher once they updated their database. “With the rate things are going, cases of human rights abuses under the watch of President Benigno Aquino may surpass the record of his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said youth representative Raymond Palatino. “President Aquino’s avowed commitment for human rights is starting to unravel. While the record of former president Macapagal-Arroyo remains unbeaten, I am afraid that President Aquino’s record could turn out worse given the rise in human rights abuses under his watch,” he said. Karapatan said 28 people were summarily killed during the first four months of Aquino’s term, which translates to an average of one victim per week. Karapatan has recorded 48 cases of extra-judicial killings from July 2010 to June 2011. “Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would do well to answer the many questions regarding her accountability not only for the massive corruption and fraud under her administration, but also on her responsibility for the gross human rights violations under her watch,” said Cristina Palabay, convenor of the End Impunity Alliance. “Impunity prevails because no one has been put behind bars for the violations up to the present. Thus, it is important that freedom-loving individuals call on the Aquino administration to decisively stop human rights violations in the country and end the reigning climate of impunity by ensuring justice is rendered to victims.” Under the Arroyo administration, Karapatan says it has documented 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings, 206 victims of enforced disappearances and thousands more victims of other forms of abuses. Since Aquino assumed office on July 1, 2010, up to July 21, 2011, Karapatan says it has already documented 50 cases of extrajudicial killings, eight cases of enforced disappearances and more than a hundred cases of illegal arrests and detentions. Related reports: Activists welcome human rights case review Human rights abuses in focus in Manila
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