“The actions of the Filipino police violate the rights to life and to be free from arbitrary detention enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the right to food guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Foreign lawyers from all over the world condemned the Philippine government for violating farmers’ civil and political rights as well as social and economic rights.
In a statement signed by its president Jeanne Mirer, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a non-governmental organization with consultative status in the United Nations, condemned the April 1 massacre of farmers in Kidapawan City and deplored the injuries of hundreds of farmers and the illegal incarceration and detention of others.
“The actions of the Filipino police violate the rights to life and to be free from arbitrary detention enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the right to food guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” the IADL said.
“These illegal police actions are tacitly supported by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, as exemplified by his silence on the matter,” the group said.
The IADL cited the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which provides that law enforcement officials may only use arms under stringent conditions and only when strictly necessary and the 1985 Philippine Public Assembly Act, which prohibits the carrying, use and discharge of firearms by members of any law enforcement agency in a public assembly.
The group further said the attack against unarmed civilians also violates the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Law (CARHRIHL), to which the Philippine government is a party.
IADL called upon the Philippine government to bring all those responsible to justice and to release immediately those being arbitrarily detained.
Two were confirmed dead and scores were wounded as police opened fire upon 6,000 farmers on April 1 in Kidapawan City. At least 70 farmers were arrested, including three pregnant and were charged with direct assault and frustrated murder.
In a separate statement, the National Lawyers Guild, a public interest association of lawyers, law students, paralegals and legal workers in the United States, expressed its “strong support for the farmers and indigenous people – subject to exploitation, militarization and the most severe impacts of climate change – in the Philippines seeking the fulfillment of a basic human right, the right to food.”
The NLG noted that the U.S. government is heavily involved in training Philippine police forces, including police “Special Action Forces,” and providing intelligence information, equipment and “antiterrorism assistance,” which has been and continues to be used to suppress popular movements for justice and accountability.
In another statement, PROGRESS Lawyers Network – Belgium said it is shocked and outraged by the shooting on protesting farmers.
Belgian lawyers noted that the farmers’ demand for assistance, particularly subsidy of rice, seedlings, fertilizers, and pesticides until the drought ends, are “reasonable claims.”
“It is a Human Right to exercise their freedom of expression and assembly. There is absolutely no excuse to shoot with live ammunition, let alone aim to kill. These were indefensible acts, which should be categorical condemned, by the national authorities too,” Belgian lawyers said.
The Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers also expressed support and solidarity to the farmers struck by this unlawful repression as well as by climate change.