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Aquino 'failing on human rights promises'

Abuses continue to go unpunished?, watchdog says

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • June 28, 2012
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President Benigno Aquino has failed to fulfill promises to hold security forces accountable for serious rights abuses since taking office two years ago, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today.

"The Aquino government has not successfully prosecuted a single case of extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, including those committed during his presidency," the New York-based rights group said in a statement.

Elaine Pearson, HRW deputy Asia director, said Aquino "has not lived up to his promises to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice."

Aquino, during his inaugural speech on June 30, 2010, instructed the Justice Department to “begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.” In 2011, during his State of the Nation address, the president reiterated this commitment.

Pearson, however, said “concrete measures – rather than more promises – are needed now."

Loretta Ann P Rosales, chairman of the government's Commission on Human Rights, agreed that the process of resolving human rights cases “is rather slow.”

“It’s not a question of cover-up as much as it is mediocrity and incompetence in the flawed criminal justice system," Rosales said in a text message to ucanews.com.

The presidential palace is yet to comment on the HRW report.

HRW also released a video today called, Philippines: No Justice for Victims of Enforced Disappearances. In the video, family members of the “disappeared” called on Aquino to deliver on his promises of justice.

In a 2011 report titled “No Justice Just Adds to the Pain,” HRW documented 10 cases of extrajudicial killings and three enforced disappearances since Aquino took office.

No one has been arrested in any of these cases, and the three “disappeared” people remain missing, the rights group said.

The Aquino administration has not taken the steps needed to bring recent cases of serious abuse to trial, it added.

In May, the Philippines’ human rights record was scrutinized at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during its Universal Periodic Review. Several countries – including the United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Holy See – voiced alarm at the continuing killings, enforced disappearances, and torture.

HRW called on Aquino to initiate "comprehensive reforms" necessary to end impunity for serious abuses. The group also urged the government to investigate police and military personnel, including high level officers, who have been implicated in killings.

“As President Aquino himself pointed out, the conviction of those implicated in abuses is the true test of his commitment to his promise,” Pearson said.

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