Junio 10, 2007

EU team in Philippines to “assess” murders

9 June 2007 - Issue : 733

A team of experts from the European Union (EU) will arrive in the Philippines within the month for a 10-day visit to assess possible assistance to help resolve a spate of political killings in the country, diplomats said last week.
The team would be composed of three officials from the Brussels-based European Commission and about four to five police, technical and human rights experts from EU countries.
The experts were scheduled to arrive in Manila on June 18, according to an official at the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of the EC delegation in the Philippines, has said the team will not investigate a spate of killings alleged to be politically motivated in the country but instead make “an assessment of needs.”
He said the team would look into what forms of assistance the EU could give to help Philippine authorities resolve the murders, prosecute suspects and prevent more attacks. The DFA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the EU team was also scheduled to meet with human rights groups during the visit.
“It’s part of their assessment,” the diplomat said. “They will speak with members of the civil society that includes local human rights groups.”
According to human rights group Karapatan, close to 900 people have become victims of extra-judicial killings since 2001. Most of the victims were leftist activists, labour leaders, human rights workers and journalists.
Karapatan has also documented some 180 cases of forced disappearances of mostly leftist and political activists in the same period.
In one of the high-profile cases of forced disappearances, the son of a late press freedom activist has been missing since April, when he was seen being dragged by armed men into a van in a crowded Manila shopping mall. The family of Jonas Burgos, an agriculturist providing skills training for leftist farmers cooperatives, has blamed the military for the kidnapping.
The military has denied involvement in Burgos’ abduction, but police have traced the van used in the kidnapping to an army camp in a northern province. An investigation was ongoing.
Several foreign governments have condemned the unabated political killings and attacks. They have criticised the Philippine government for failing to stop the murders, which leftist groups have blamed on the military.

Posted by marga at Junio 10, 2007 3:19 AM | TrackBack
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