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Tag Archives: United Nations Special Rapporteur

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2009

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org

U.S. CITIZEN ABDUCTED AND TORTURED BY SUSPECTED PHILIPPINE MILITARY AGENTS TO SPEAK PUBLICLY FOR FIRST TIME

U.N. Day in Support of Torture Victims Marked with Press Conference by Torture Survivor Melissa Roxas

What: Press Conference of Melissa Roxas, recent victim of abduction and torture

When: Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time: 4-5:30 PM

Where: Echo Park United Methodist Church

1226 N. Alvarado St.

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Live Web Stream: www.bayan.ph

LOS ANGELES, CA – In her first public appearance since being released from captivity, Melissa Roxas, a U.S. citizen abducted and tortured in the Philippines from May 19-25, will hold a press conference to describe the human rights abuses she endured while held for six days in an alleged military camp. Ms. Roxas, an American human rights advocate of Filipino descent, is the first known American citizen to have become a victim of abduction and torture in the Philippines, a country which has drawn international condemnation for state-sponsored human rights atrocities.

In a sworn affidavit submitted to the Philippine Supreme Court, Ms. Roxas described being abducted at gunpoint by several heavily armed men, brought to what she believed is a military camp, held against her will, questioned without the presence of an attorney, beaten repeatedly, and asphyxiated using plastic bags before being released. During the press conference, Ms. Roxas is expected to demand accountability from the Philippine government and military, who she holds responsible for her ordeal, as well as the U.S. government for providing funding and training to the Philippine military. Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Philippine-based human rights organization Karapatan, and Human Rights Watch have overwhelmingly concluded that the Philippine military is responsible for systematically carrying out human rights violations such as abduction, torture and extra-judicial killings against innocent civilians. Nearly $1 billion worth of U.S. military aid and materiel has been granted to the Philippines since 1999, the year the U.S.- Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement was enacted.

The experience of Ms. Roxas is considered typical for the 200 cases of abduction and 1,010 cases of torture recorded since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president of the Philippines in 2001. The Philippine government’s quick denial of responsibility for Ms. Roxas’ abduction and torture is also considered a typical response; in his 2007 report on the Philippines, U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston cited such systematic denial by the government as one of the primary obstacles to stopping the rampant human rights violations plaguing the country. In his 2009 follow-up report, Alston indicated a general failure of the Arroyo government to stop the persistent human rights violations. In April 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) also released a report detailing the use of torture by the Philippine military.

At the press conference, Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, Attorney Arnedo Valera, will explain the potential legal remedies that are being explored, including the filing of a tort action in U.S. Federal Court for punitive and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or the Arroyo government in the absence of named assailants; the lodging of a private complaint before the U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Desk against the Philippine government for the violation of the fundamental rights of a U.S. citizen; and the filing of a complaints before the appropriate U.N. agencies for violations of the International Covenant Against Torture, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

The press conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA and broadcast live on the website www.bayan.ph. Media in the Philippines will be hosted simultaneously by Bayan Philippines and will be able to ask questions in real time. The U.S.-based press conference is sponsored by the Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign, whose membership includes Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, BAYAN-USA, GABRIELA USA, Katarungan Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. ###

For those who have missed the live feed of Melissa’s Press Conference here are the recorded videos:

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Philippine Embassy

News Release

04 June 2009

PRESS STATEMENT

EXEC. SEC. EDUARDO R. ERMITA

Presidential Spokesman

04 June 2009

Alston acknowledges RP progress on human rights in follow-up report

Prof. Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra judicial killings, acknowledged the progress in the Philippine government’s and the Arroyo administration’s promotion and protection of human rights in the country in his presentation of his follow-up report yesterday (June 3) to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

In his oral statement before the United Nations body, Alston clearly acknowledged that the number of unexplained killings in the Philippines “has fallen dramatically by 70%” since his visit in 2007.

He also mentioned that the Philippine Human Rights Commission has been reinvigorated, a major and “highly credible” investigation of the alleged death squads in Davao has been opened, and “the Government continues to announce new initiatives designed to reduce the number of killings and identify those responsible.”

The Philippines, through its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, noted Prof. Alston’s follow-up report. The Permanent Mission submitted to the Human Rights Council a detailed response in writing to Prof. Alston’s follow-up report prepared by the Presidential Human Rights Committee.

During the interactive dialogue in the Human Rights Council, the Philippine delegation shared news reports validating that the New People’s Army was behind a number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

The Philippine delegation stated that such proof was “indicative of the consistent pattern of deception used by rebel groups where the armed wing conducts extra judicial killings, forced disappearances and other violations of humanitarian law, while the political arm puts the blame on the government.”

In its follow-up report, the Presidential Human Rights Committee revealed that atrocities committed by the Communist New People’s Army against innocent civilians and communities remain rampant. Data from various sources revealed that from January 2008 up to May 2009 alone, there were 235 cases of atrocities, broken down into 171 cases in 2008 and 64 in the first quarter of 2009.

These figures involve 120 cases of murder and liquidation of suspected government informers, non-payers of so-called revolutionary taxes, and civilian non-sympathizers; 64 arson incidents involving buses, trucks, bulldozers and other construction equipment, and cellular phone sites; 21 cases of forced disarmament of armed personnel; 18 cases of extortion and harassment of small businessmen and professionals; and 12 cases of abduction of military and police personnel, and civilian non-sympathizers.

Prof. Alston presented a number of reports to the 11th session of the Human Rights Council, including those on his visits to other countries, and not just the Philippines.

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Reference:

Consul Gines Gallaga

Press and Information Office

Email: ggallaga@cox.net

Tel: 202-467-9432