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Philippine News Digest 31

July 26, 2002 · 

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Contents:

  • Amnesty International urges Macapagal to freeze executions
  • US threatens to block UN vote on torture convention
  • MLSA to be signed during Powell visit

Amnesty International urges Macapagal to freeze executions

The human rights group Amnesty International urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to freeze scheduled judicial executions this year and cautioned her against abuses in her war on crime. The caution came after the President delivered her State of the Nation Address to signal the opening of Congress July 22. Amnesty International said in a statement that the president’s declaration that she will put the police and military on “war footing” to crush kidnap gangs and other criminal syndicates could lead to “vigilantism, unlawful killings and the use of torture against criminal suspects. The group also raised concerns over the appointment of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as government consultant on crimes. The tough-talking mayor earlier made statements which appeared to suggest that extra-judicial killings were an effective means to combat crime. “Peace and order will never be achieved by a vigilante’s bullet, or by police using a plastic bag to suffocate a suspect to coerce confession, ” the group said. Instead, the group urged the president to professionalize the graft-tainted police force by eqipping them well and training them to respect human rights and rule of law. Source: www.inq7.net.

US threatens to block UN vote on torture convention

After opposing the establishment of the International Criminal Court early this month, the United States is again set to block a UN vote on a plan to enforce an international protocol on torture, US diplomats and human rights advocates said on July 23. The 15-page optional protocol aims to establish a system of regular visits to be undertaken by independent and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Rory Mungoven of the Human Rights Watch said the protocol would create a more proactive mechanism that includes visits to prisons and other preventive measures that would help enforce the UN Convention on Torture passed in 1989. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some of the visits would be illegal because each state has its own penal laws and that it raises the issue of access to suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan and other prisoners being held in the war on terrorism. According to Amnesty International, people were tortured or ill-treated by authorities in 111 countries last year. Source: Dafna Linzer, The Associated Press.

MLSA to be signed during Powell visits

Despite stiff opposition from various sectors, the Mutual Logistics Services Agreement between the Philippines and the US is likely to be signed during the visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell next month. The MLSA would allow the US to put up storage and supply facilities in the country to help in its international war on terrorism. However, several human rights groups warned that it could pave the way for the re-establishment of US military bases in the country. Military bases all over the world are known to encourage prostitution where it is located leading to the abuse of several thousands women and children. Source: Christine Herrera and correspondent reports, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 July 2002.

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