‘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.###

Issues and cases that will be brought before the International People’s Tribunal

Issues and cases that will be brought before the International People’s Tribunal  on the Crimes of the US-Aquino Governments Against the Filipino People.

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A presentation by Tinay Palabay on behalf of plaintiffs/complainants Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, Karapatan, Hustisya, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Selda, Desaparecidos, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Migrante, Kadamay, Gabriela, Kalikasan, Bayan Muna, et al.

DC Tribunal Set to Hold Aquino, US Gov’t Accountable for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines

DC Tribunal Set to Hold Aquino, US Gov’t Accountable
for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
For Immediate Release
March 13, 2015

Contact:
Jackelyn Mariano, National Lawyers Guild International Committee, email: ipt2015media@gmail.com

WASHINGTON, DC—An International Peoples Tribunal (IPT) looking into the human rights abuses in the Philippines under the administration of Benigno Simeon Aquino III is set to take place in Washington, DC on July 16-18. Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and prominent human rights attorney Azadeh Shahshahani will be amongst the distinguished panel of jurors who will hear live testimonies of witnesses from the Philippines. Conveners of the tribunal include the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the National Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and Ibon International.

“This tribunal is being held at the behest of victims of human rights abuses and other crimes committed under the Aquino government. They are convinced these crimes are committed with impunity under Aquino with the support of the US government,” states Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a convening organization of the IPT.

“As the call for truth and accountability builds, there is also a growing clamor for President Aquino to step down because of weak leadership, most recently galvanized by his handling of the Philippine National Police operation at Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January that resulted in a death-toll of over 60, including civilians” states Katrina Abarcar of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).

“The Mamasapano operation raises important questions for us here in the US not only over Aquino’s ability to lead, but over the extent of the US military’s direct involvement in Philippine domestic security operations, especially since we as peace advocates in the US have long lobbied to cut US support to the Philippine military for the latter’s culpability in gross human rights violations, “ Abarcar continued.

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March 12 – Manila Launch of the International Peoples Tribunal
The IPT will also look into the role of the US government as represented by the Obama administration. Amongst the cases to be heard in the IPT is that of the murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman found strangled to death in a hotel room in Olongapo City after being last seen with US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton last October.

The murder of Laude and retention of US custody over Pemberton despite a Philippine arrest warrant continues to raise public scrutiny over the impact of US military presence in the Philippines by way of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and the immunity from the Philippine court system US military personnel are granted under these agreements between the US and Philippine governments.

International outrage over extrajudicial killings in the Philippines led to a 2007 US Senate hearing that resulted in cuts to the US military aid package to the Philippine government.

An official gathering to publicly and formally announce the IPT was held this week in Manila, along with witnesses, victims, and families of victims of human rights abuses.

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IPT Juror Azadeh Shahshahani delivers a skype address from the US

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Philippine human rights advocates symbolically hold up charges against Aquino