Philippines: Toward Ensuring Justice and Ending Political Killings

As provided for in its mandate, the Commission should make recommendations to the President with regard to: reparations to victims and their families; the enactment of specific legal, institutional and other reforms that would prevent repetition of past violations; any necessary government actions to be taken in furtherance of its findings. The Commission’s recommendations may include for example: reforming laws, administrative procedures and practices; strengthening the justice system; promoting human rights education; organizing training for the police and security forces, continuing investigations or inquiries into particular matters and prosecutions in particular cases.

Recommendations should also include the establishment or enablement of a future monitoring body, be it international, national or combined, to ensure that all future political or other unlawful killings are promptly and thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators are brought to justice and that the families of victims are ensured full reparation.

Amnesty International urges that that a timeline be established for periodic review of the Commission’s recommendations, and of the progress of their implementation by relevant government agencies.

E. Preserving evidence for future prosecutions

The work of the Melo Commission should assist and should not prejudice current or future criminal proceedings. If the Commission obtains information indicating that identified individuals may have been responsible for committing, ordering, encouraging or permitting unlawful killings, abductions and enforced disappearances, that information should be passed to the relevant judicial or law enforcement bodies for investigation without delay, with a view to bringing those individuals to justice. Principle 8(e) of the updated Set of Principles to Combat Impunity states:

“Commissions of inquiry shall endeavour to safeguard evidence for later use in the administration of justice”.

In carrying out their mandate, the Commission should bear in mind the rules and conditions for the admissibility of evidence in the criminal process and should ensure that they produce admissible evidence for later criminal proceedings.

The government should ensure that persons identified by the investigation as having participated in the unlawful killings, abductions and enforced disappearances investigated are brought to justice. The Commission should recommend modalities of bringing to justice alleged perpetrators from both sides.

F. Archives

The UN Commission on Human Rights has declared that

“… states should preserve archives and other evidence concerning gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law to facilitate knowledge of such violations, to investigate allegations and to provide victims with access to an effective remedy in accordance with international law”.(5)

In particular, commissions of inquiry should establish at the outset the conditions that will govern access to their documents, including conditions aimed at preventing disclosure of confidential information while facilitating public access to their archives.(6)

(1) See main report, and its summary, at:

(2) Including the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials; United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (The Tokyo Rules); Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers; and Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors.

(3) United Nations Principles relating to the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary or Summary Executions, endorsed by the General Assembly in December 1989 and approved by the Economic and Social Council in 24 May 1990.

(4) Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, adopted by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 40/34 of 29 November 1985, Principle 4 and Principle 6(d).

(5) Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 2005/66, Right to the truth, 20 April 2005.

(6) Updated Set of principles to combat impunity, Principle 8(f).


14 September 2006 AI Index: ASA 35/010/2006 (Public)

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