Rights group says impunity must be stopped
Government to face UN in Geneva
Amnesty International yesterday called on the government to take concrete action to end impunity for members of the security forces responsible for torture and other human rights violations. The call came ahead of the country’s appearance before the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva today. Government representatives were to present a report detailing measures taken to comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International, however has submitted a report to the Human Rights Committee detailing serious rights violations that have gone unpunished in the Philippines. These include torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. "The Philippines should use the opportunity of this UN review to make good on its promises to end impunity for grave human rights violations,” said Ritz Lee Santos, chairperson of Amnesty International in the Philippines. “We put an anti-torture law on the books, and now we need to put this into practice,” he said yesterday. Three years after the 2009 Anti-Torture Act was passed by Congress, no perpetrator has been convicted of torture, although several cases have been filed in court. The family of Darius Evangelista, whose alleged torture in a Manila police station in 2010 was filmed on a mobile phone and broadcast on television and the internet, is still waiting for justice. Evangelista is now thought to be dead, although his family is still waiting for the results of a forensic examination on a corpse they believe to be his. Although the police officer seen in the video beating Evangelista was later taken into custody, he has since gone missing and is thought to be at large along with other police officers seen in the footage who failed to stop the assault. Activists, local journalists and community leaders continue to be unlawfully killed or to disappear. Investigation and prosecution of these cases are wanting, allowing perpetrators to escape justice. Nearly three years after a massacre in Maguindanao province, which killed 56 people, including many journalists, families of the victims are still waiting for justice. At least six actual and prospective witnesses, as well as close relatives of witnesses, have already been killed.