Two years under Aquino, abuses go unpunished
(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, June 28, 2012 - President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines has not fulfilled his promises to hold accountable the security forces responsible for serious abuses since taking office two years ago, Human Rights Watch said today. The Aquino government has not successfully prosecuted a single case of extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, including those committed during his presidency, Human Rights Watch said.
In his inaugural speech on June 30, 2010, Aquino gave "marching orders" to the Justice Department to "begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all." Five months later, at an event to commemorate human rights, he said that, "The culture of silence, injustice and impunity that once reigned is now a thing of the past." And during his 2011 State of the Nation Address, Aquino reiterated this commitment, saying, "We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals."
"President Aquino has not lived up to his promises to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Concrete measures - rather than more promises - are needed now."
Human Rights Watch today released a video, "Philippines: No Justice for Victims of Enforced Disappearances," in which family members of the "disappeared" call on the president to live up to his promises of justice.
Human Rights Watch, in its 2011 report "No Justice Just Adds to the Pain," documented 10 cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances since Aquino took office. No one has been arrested in any of these cases, and the three "disappeared" people remain missing.
The Aquino administration has not taken the needed steps to bring recent cases of serious abuse to trial, Human Rights Watch said.
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In the past decade, state security forces in the Philippines have been implicated in the torture, enforced disappearance, and killing of hundreds of leftist activists, journalists, and clergy. The communist New People's Army and other insurgent groups have also been responsible for killings and other serious abuses. Under President Macapagal-Arroyo, government security forces conducted a massive campaign targeting groups deemed to be Communist Party fronts and their alleged members and supporters. The number of killings and disappearances implicating the military has gone down under the Aquino administration, but they continue.
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