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UN quiz Manila on rights record

Expresses concern over killings, disappearances and torture

Filipino activists queue to attend the UN human rights review in Geneva on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Philippine UPR Watch) Filipino activists queue to attend the UN human rights review in Geneva on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Philippine UPR Watch)
  • Hernan Melencio, Manila
  • Philippines
  • May 30, 2012
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The United Nations has called on Manila to end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and the use of torture following a review of its human rights record yesterday.

Representatives of at least 22 nations aired their concerns to a delegation led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over ongoing abuses during a session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Filipino activists said.

The UPR, held every four years, examines how far member states have complied with recommendations made at the previous review.

“Several countries also called on the Philippine government to dismantle all paramilitary groups and militias,” said members of Philippine UPR Watch, a coalition of 15 civil society groups, who attended the session.

“Australia urged Manila to arrest fugitive former general Jovito Palparan, who is wanted for the abduction of two student activists, while the UK, Spain and the Holy See called for the complete eradication of extrajudicial killings,” the group said.

“The questions raised were nearly identical to the questions we have submitted to the delegation prior to the UN session…. We count 76 victims of extrajudicial killings since [President Benigno] Aquino took office,” said activist Marie Enriquez.

“While the government now claims a dramatic decline in the killings, our data shows [it] has not lived up to its commitment to eliminate these violations altogether,” she added.

The Philippine delegation said President Aquino “has been firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights … while respecting the rule of law, justice and due process.”

However, Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said the Philippine report was selective in its presentation of data.

“The report tends to highlight lesser achievements by gloating over steps it has belatedly taken, while conveniently drowning the more essential issues such as the almost nil conviction rate of perpetrators of rights abuses and the continuing effects of the government’s counter-insurgency program on the people,” he said.

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