The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and
the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and Ireland
(NUJ), joined the Campaign for Human
Rights in the Philippines and
Amnesty International at a rally yesterday at the Human Rights Action Centre in
London to mark 100 days since the massacre of 23 November 2009, which left 58 people
dead, including 32 journalists in the southern province of Maguindanao in the Philippines.
"The Arroyo government is responsible for allowing a
culture of impunity to grow over the past decade that created the conditions in
which the Ampatuan
Town massacre could take
place," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ
The IFJ is particularly critical of the decision to
promote General Alfred Cayton to deputy commander of the Philippine army within
weeks of him refusing a military escort for the convoy that was subsequently
massacred. Victims' families have since launched a civil action against General
"This promotion not only rewards a fatal act of gross
negligence, but also makes clear the government's determination not to
investigate the role and responsibility of the military in this massacre,"
The IFJ is also critical of President Arroyo's vaguely-worded
Executive Order 546 issued in 2006 which allowed the use of neighbourhood-watch
type armed "force multipliers," or Civilian Volunteer Organisations, in
counterinsurgency operations. These, in
practice, effectively supported paramilitary groups and legalised private
armies of politicians and other local strongmen.
The IFJ links the use of private armies to the growing
number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances for which nobody has ever been
brought to justice. Prior to this massacre, some 104 journalists had met violent
deaths since 1984. The murder of the 32 journalists and media workers, along
with 25 other victims, is the single worst atrocity against the media and makes
the most dangerous country for journalists outside Iraq.
The IFJ joins the NUJ
UK and the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines
in issuing a statement urging the Government of the Philippines
to act on its commitment under International Obligations and Actions, including
the Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 2006
UN Security Council resolution 1738 that obliges governments to protect
journalists in conflict zones.
In particular, the group is demanding that President
Arroyo revokes Executive Order 546 which allows militias to operate. With regard
to the massacre itself, that Government :
- - gives full support to the families of the victims - financial, medical and legal;
- investigates the inaction and alleged collusion of the military structures and commands prior to the massacre;
- - gives sufficient resources and independence to prosecutors and the judiciary to guarantee a speedy and effective investigations , trial and crucially guarantees the safety and protection of all witnesses to the massacre and ;
- - ensures a safe environment in which media across the country can report on the May 10th election.
information, please call the IFJ at
+32 2 235 2207
IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 125 countries