IFJ Demands Safety Guarantee at Massacre Trials in Philippines

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the National

Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in calling on the Government of the Philippines to direct its authorities and

security forces to ensure the protection of all involved in legal proceedings

to prosecute suspects accused of the Ampatuan

Town massacre.

 

The call came as the IFJ and its

affiliate expressed concern about alleged threats against an interpreter and

lawyer who had been assisting in the trial hearings into the massacre in

Maguindanao, Mindanao, on November 23, 2009.

 

Thirty-two media personnel were

among the 58 people killed. The trials are dealing with 57 counts of murder, as

the body of Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay has not been found.

 

Rolando Abo, of the National

Commission for Muslim Filipinos, tendered his resignation as interpreter to

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes on August 1, citing health

reasons, according to the NUJP.

 

However, media reports say a

principal accused, Andal Ampatuan Sr, allegedly threatened Abo during a trial hearing

on July 28.

 

Judge Solis-Reyes postponed both

hearings scheduled for last week after Abo was unable to attend due to ill

health.

 

“Authorities tasked with providing

protection to all involved in the massacre hearings – including witnesses,

lawyers, families of the victims and others – must urgently investigate all

allegations of threats and ensure appropriate security measures are provided to

all those assisting the prosecution of the case,” IFJ

Asia-Pacific said.

 

The IFJ supports the NUJP’s call for local authorities, especially the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and other

security forces, to act urgently to guarantee the safety of all involved in the

proceedings.

 

The call follows a report that a

BJMP detachment assigned to the Camp Bagong Diwa detention centre was relieved in

June after prosecution lawyers and the families of the victims complained that

the principal accused, including Ampatuan Sr, had been permitted undue

privileges.   

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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