Civil society organisations from around the globe and CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation join the loud calls by Philippines civil society of "End Impunity! Justice Now!" CIVICUS and its partners want the government of the Philippines to swiftly and transparently investigate the ongoing attacks facing opposition politicians, journalists and civil society advocates which on 23 November 2009 culminated in the slaying of at least 57 people in the violence-ridden Maguindanao province of the country.
Before this recent mass murder, the Philippines civil society organisation Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights) has recorded 1,013 extrajudicial killings and 202 enforced disappearances since 2001. The massacre of 23 November targeted the convoy of a gubernatorial candidate's family and supporters, with a number of journalists and unfortunate bystanders also caught-up in the bloodshed. The killings underscore the high level of violence that remains common for opposition political activist, civil society and the general public in the Philippines. Local civil society organisations have often borne the brunt of this violence in their work to expose perpetrators of human rights violations. As one of many affected organisations, Karapatan has had 34 members killed since 2001, while other staff and members have been subjected to torture, arrests and other forms of intimidation.
CIVICUS and its partners are encouraged that the Philippine authorities on 1 December 2009 charged some of the suspected perpetrators of the prior week's killings, but are also mindful of the many past cases of rights violations that have languished for years without proper investigation and prosecution. With a clear political motivation behind this mass murder and a number of the suspected perpetrators being senior politicians and police officers in the province, CIVICUS and its partners remain hopeful for a meaningful investigation and prosecution process. Nevertheless, past experiences of impunity enjoyed by human rights violators suggest that justice may take a long time in coming.
The Association pour la Défense des Droits et des Libertés (Lebanon), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Development Services Exchange (Solomon Islands), Karapatan, the Pakistan NGO Forum, Rapid Response Group – Uzbekistan, Red Nicaraguense por la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local (Nicaragua) and Sinergia: Venezuelan Association of Civil Society Organizations as members of global civil society call upon President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and all branches of the Philippines government to take urgent and sustained action to end the widespread culture of impunity and ensure the protection of civil society organisations and activists.
Note for editors:
The Association pour la Défense des Droits et des Libertés is a Lebanese non-profit organization founded in 1995 by Lebanese lawyers and jurists to promote and defend fundamental freedoms and human rights in Lebanon.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries.
Development Services Exchange is a national NGO umbrella body of the Solomon Islands established in 1984 to facilitate and coordinate development services for NGOs and their partners.
Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights) is an alliance of individuals, groups and organizations working for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.
The Pakistan NGO Forum is a network for developing a common platform and voice for NGOs in Pakistan.
Rapid Response Group – Uzbekistan is an association of local human rights defenders that documents and works to prevent a wide range of human rights abuses including torture.
Red Nicaraguense por la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local is a network aimed at promoting inclusive local development in Nicaragua based on gender equity, opportunities for all ages and multiculturalism.
Sinergia: Venezuelan Association of Civil Society Organizations promotes and advocates for the rights to free association and participation.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
CIVICUS is an international alliance established in 1993 to nurture the foundation, growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world, especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizens' freedom of association are threatened. For more information, click here ».