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Manila urged to do more on rights issue

Watchdog says efforts still fall short in addressing political killings

Gulf News

Manila: Despite its bannered efforts to address concerns such as political killings, the Philippines needs to walk its talk on respect for human rights, an international watchdog stressed.

The Human Rights Watch, in is 2013 World Report that also covers the Philippines, said that while the country adopted a landmark human rights legislations in 2012, its efforts still fall short hitting the sweet spot in addressing rights abuses.

“The overall human rights situation in the Philippines improved in 2012 with fewer extrajudicial killings and the passage of historic laws promoting rights,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Adams was apparently referring to the passage in 2012 of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act and Reproductive Health Law.

The Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act criminalizes enforced disappearances. The HRW hailed it as “the first such law in Asia, and one that could end the scourge of such abductions that have destroyed countless lives.”

The Reproductive Health Law, on the other hand, makes it mandatory for the government to make accessible reproductive health services, especially the poor.

HRW reiterated while the enactment of these laws by President Benigno Aquino III is commendable, these edicts needs to be backed with concrete action to be effective.

“…The government has failed to address impunity for the most serious abuses. On prosecuting rights abusers, it needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

“No progress on accountability for extrajudicial killings, disappearances

Little progress was made in successfully prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture,” HRW said.

“Not a single case of extrajudicial killing by the security forces resulted in a conviction in 2012, and no such conviction has been reported since Aquino became president in 2010,” the watchdog said.

It also said that hundreds of left-wing activists, journalists, rights defenders, and clergy have been killed by alleged members of the security forces since 2001. “Local human rights organizations reported approximately 114 cases of extrajudicial killings since Aquino came to office, though the number dropped sharply with just 13 reported in 2012.”