Up for review
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
According to a New York based human rights watchdog, the Aquino administration has failed to take significant measures to prosecute soldiers, policemen and militiamen implicated in unexplained killings, torture and other human rights violations. Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson told reporters that President Aquino must make it clear to members of the military that violators of human rights would be held accountable and brought to justice.
Human Rights Watch is calling on United Nations member-countries to put more pressure on the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 29 to ensure accountability for serious human rights abuses. During the first Universal Periodic Review in 2008, UN members had 17 recommendations, which ranged from improving gender rights to the elimination of extrajudicial killings, to the Philippines to improve the country’s human rights records.
According to the HRW, the government has successfully prosecuted only four cases of extrajudicial killings since 2008. In 2011, at least 10 cases of killings and disappearances attributed to security forces were documented but not a single suspect has been successfully prosecuted in any of those cases. They also criticize the numerous task forces that have supposedly been created to address the problem of impunity because those bodies have been nothing more than public relation exercises and have failed to produce significant results.
While the Human Rights Watch admits that the country has made several notable human rights improvements since the first UPR in 2008, such as the law against torture in 2009, the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2011, and the effort to give the poor better access to justice by eliminating court fees and through the Justice on Wheels program; it demands that the Aquino government do more to improve the human rights situation in the country.
Hopefully the added pressure of the upcoming review pushes this government to put added focus and emphasis on the elimination of a problem that is almost as institutionalized as corruption, not only until May 29, but until the human rights records of the Philippines finally becomes something we can be proud of.*