UN Human Rights Committee Says Arroyo Gov’t Guilty of Violating Rights on Marcellana-Gumanoy case

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee has found the Arroyo government guilty of violating the rights of human rights defenders Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy.

Marcellana, then Karapatan-Southern Tagalog secretary general and Gumanoy, local peasant leader, were abducted and killed in April 2003. Witnesses point to the “Bonnet Gang,” a paramilitary group linked with the Philippine Army’s 204th Infantry Battalion of which then Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. was the commanding officer. Their bodies were found in Bansud, Mindoro Oriental.

The UN Human Rights Committee is the body monitoring the States parties’ compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Committee said the facts reveal violations by the Philippine government of the right to life of every person, the right to liberty and security of persons and the rights of violated persons to effective remedies and the State ensuring that such remedies are provided and enforced as stated in the provisions of the ICCPR.

The 12-page UN Human Rights Committee’s decision was put out on October 30 during its 94th session held in the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.

The official communication tabbed as CCPR/C/94/1560/2007 and dated 11 November 2008 was received by Karapatan November 21.

Complaints were filed with the UN Human Rights Committee on March 9, 2006 by Orly Marcellana, husband of Eden Marcellana and Daniel Gumanoy, son of farmer leader Eddie Gumanoy. Both were represented by Karapatan National Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez. Laywer Edre Olalia, president of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), assisted the victims’ relatives and Karapatan in filing the said complaint.

The Committee further said that the Philippine government “is under an obligation to provide the authors [complainants] with an effective remedy, including initiation and pursuit of criminal proceedings to establish responsibility for the kidnapping and death of the victims.”

The Philippine government, said the Committee, must also provide the complainants appropriate compensation.

The Committee asked the Philippine government to submit, within 180 days, information about the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s Views.

The Committee said the Philippine government should also ‘take measures to ensure that such violations do not recur in the future.’

Karapatan noted that the UN Human Rights Committee decision came out at a time that Orly Marcellana is himself ‘the subject of political persecution in the country.’ Orly Marcellana, secretary general of local peasant group Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog, is among the 72 activists charged with criminal crimes in relation to a Mindoro Oriental incident. (Bulatlat.com)

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