‘Not just promises’ – Rights victims dare 2016 bets: stand for justice

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International Peoples’ Tribunal complainants challenge PH presidential bets: will you stand for justice?

MANILA, Philippines, 16 Jul 2015 – “Will the prospective candidates for the 2016 national and local elections stand for human rights and justice?,” asked human rights victims and kin in a media forum for the International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT) set to happen next month in Washington, DC.

“We don’t need promises. Will the candidates respect, support and uphold the IPT set to try multiple criminal charges against the Aquino government? If the verdict comes out, will they deliver on its resolution once they assume office?” Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay retorted.

Particularly, the challenge was posed before Liberal Party (LP) bet Sec. Mar Roxas, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidate Jojo Binay, National Peoples Coalition (NPC) bets Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Chiz Escudero, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“There are several levels by which they can stand for rights victims. One is to respect the tribunal, more substantial than formal recognition is to support or even endorse the tribunal. And, more lasting and relevant for victims, is to uphold the findings of the tribunal and commit to ending impunity,” explained Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

The IPT is set to hear complaints form plaintiffs Karapatan, Hustisya, Desaparacidos, Selda, Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and its affiliated mass organisations. Complaints consist mainly of violations of civil and political rights including killings, abductions, illegal detention and torture; economic, social and cultural rights; and the rights of the people to national self-determination and the right to resist.

The IPT convenors include the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the US-based National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), and IBON International. Among its endorsers is US-based ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism) Coalition, a movement that ignited the largest coordinated antiwar actions in history.

Prosecution would be led by former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark with an eminent international jury that includes former President of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Azadeh Shahshahani, UN Human Rights Council advisor Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, International Affairs Advisory Committee to the UN representative of the World Council of Churches Rev. Dr. Molefe Tsele, Economic Jutice Network Executive Director Rev. Malcolm Damon, among others.

The Tribunal embodies the right of peoples to hold governments to account. It stems from the failure of the government and international institutions to uphold their own standards as embodied in national as well as international laws and instruments. it will use legal and judicial procedure and standards in its hearing.###

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