Lichtenberg said further, “The willingness to investigate serious allegations of involvement of state agents in these killings is still lacking among government authorities concerned.”
The mission members noted that the principle of command responsibility could not be used in pursuing criminal cases here in the Philippines.
Vermolen, vice president of the Court in Amsterdam in the criminal section, said that the principle of command responsibility is used in international law and included in several treaties.
The IVFFM team said that current government measures ‘merely focus on protection and security of lawyers and judges; but these should also address the underlying causes.’
Meanwhile, NUPL’s Colmenares said they would persist in asserting the principle of command responsibility in criminal cases against perpetrators of rights abuses.
Colmenares said that the Philippine Constitution recognizes international treaties as part of the law of the land. He cited as an example the prosecution of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita for atrocities committed by troops under his command in the Philippines during the World War II.
The mission noted that although the number of killings has declined, they still occur. “…[i]t must be emphasized that every killing is one too much,” they said.
Intimidation also continues, the IVFFM team said. “We observed that among lawyers and judges feelings of fear and insecurity still exist: [death] threats and other forms of harassments, including fabricated charges, were mentioned.”
Mission members interviewed lawyers and judges from different parts of the country who experience various forms of attacks.
Incidents of Reported Killings or Attacks on Philippine Judges and Lawyers
Monitored and Documented by Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL),
Philippines (formerly Committee for the Defense of Lawyers)
January 2001-October 2008
The NUPL and CODAL thanked the L4L Foundation for its continuing concern over the attacks against lawyers and judges and the human rights situation in the country. “The IVFFM team has never been more timely than now, when there is a resurgence in extrajudicial killings and more blatant attacks on human rights,” the NUPL and CODAL said in a statement.
Lichtenberg said the IVFFM would release its final report soon. She said they would submit copies of the report to the United Nations and international human rights groups.(Bulatlat.com)