Unions and Media Support Organisations Demand Urgent Action In Philippines

International

freedom of expression groups, media support and development organisations and

journalists’ unions are calling on the Philippines Government to take urgent

and concrete steps to respond and act on human rights abuses that continue to

plague journalists and media workers operating in the country.

Twenty-eight organisations meeting this week to discuss international

partnerships joined colleagues in the Philippines

in remembering victims of the Ampatuan Town Massacre, in Maguindanao, Mindanao one year ago today.

The massacre, which saw 58 people including 32 journalists and media

workers brutally murdered, is known as the world’s single biggest atrocity against journalists

and the lowest point in a decades-long culture of impunity for the killings of

media personnel in the Philippines.

The groups meeting at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris marked the

one-year anniversary of the massacre by issuing a call to national governments

around the world to exert

pressure on the administration of Benigno Aquino III so that perpetrators of human

rights abuses in the Philippines face justice, regardless of their place or

status within society or government.

Of 196

suspects in the massacre, 19 are now on trial while more than 100 remain at

large. Of those at large, 10 are police and four are soldiers. Intimidation,

bribery and compromised forensic evidence threaten the prosecution of the

perpetrators. Meanwhile, journalists’ and media workers’ safety continues to be

under threat, with another four journalists and media workers killed in the Philippines

this year.

The meeting

resolved that President Benigno Aquino III and his administration is falling

short on his promise to seek justice in the Maguindanao killings, and other human rights abuses including the many victims of extrajudicial murders.  

The

organisations reminded governments around that world that ending the culture of

impunity for the killings of journalists and media workers, which intensified

under the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo, is a global

responsibility, and one which requires decisive and urgent action.

The organisations

endorsed the following recommendations, made by a number of international

missions, advocacy and support work conducted in the Philippines

over many years by organisations present at the Paris meeting.

To ensure a prompt, fair and transparent trial of

all suspects implicated in the Ampatuan

Town Massacre, Philippines

President Benigno Aquino III and his administration should:

- Direct

authorities and law enforcement agencies to provide all evidence in the

massacre case to the prosecution;

- Support

changes of trial venue to neutral and secure locations;

- Pursue the

investigation, arrest and prosecution of all those responsible for bribes,

threats, and violence towards witnesses and family members of the victims;

- Direct

judicial authorities to nominate a timeframe for the arrest, trial and

prosecution of all 196 suspects, and commit all required resources to achieving

this goal; and

- Ensure

adequate funding for the Department of Justice witness protection program.

Beyond Maguindanao, the government must review and

pursue policies to address impunity including:

- The creation

of rapid response teams composed of forensic and legal experts to handle all

major crimes, including the murders of journalists and media workers;

- Judicial and

legislative reform to ensure that justice is delivered swiftly in all cases

where media personnel are murdered, including compensation and counselling for

families of victims; and

- Take responsibility

to lead a process of national reconciliation by conducting a series of public

meetings and a public awareness media campaign in support of media freedom,

democracy and human rights in the Philippines.

Endorsed by:

AMARC: World

Association of Community Radio Broadcasters

Article 19

Belarusian

Association of Journalists

Centre for Law

and Democracy

Committee to Protect

Journalists

Deutche Welle

Federation of

Nepali Journalists (FNJ)

Fojo International

Freedom House

International Center For Journalists

International Federation of Journalists

International Media Support

Index on

Censorship

International News Safety Institute

International PEN

Internews

Internews Europe

International Publishers Association

International Press Institute

Institute for Reporters’

Freedom and Safety

International Research and Exchanges Board

(IREX)

IREX Europe

Open Society Foundation

Pakistan Federal Union

of Journalists

Press Now

United

National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

WAN-IFRA:

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

World Press Freedom

Committee

Endorsed:

November 23, 2010

 

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information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

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