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Philippines: Assassinations and Disappearances

Volume 694: debated on Wednesday 18 July 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have studied the report on assassinations and disappearances in the Philippines produced by Judge S Melo; and whether they will make representations to the Government of the Philippines on its findings. [HL4849]

We continue to be concerned about extra-judicial killings in the Philippines and have raised the issue with the Philippine Government on a number of occasions. We have seen Judge Melo's report and welcome the steps announced by President Arroyo in response to recommendations made in the report and are waiting to see how these measures are implemented. We also welcomed the visit by Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, to the Philippines in February and will encourage the Philippine Government to follow both his initial recommendations and those in his final report when it is published. President Arroyo has requested technical assistance from the EU to support the Philippine Government's efforts to address extra-judicial killings. The EU sent a needs assessment mission to the Philippines in June to identify what areas of technical assistance might be required. The UK supported the mission by providing a UK expert in witness protection and prosecutorial systems.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the British embassy in Manila or the European Union collected details about killings of political, religious and social activists in the Philippines during the last three years; if so, what is their estimate of the number of deaths and woundings; and whether their analysis gives any indication that persons profiting from gambling and sexual services have encouraged extra-judicial killing. [HL4850]

Neither our embassy in Manila nor the EU has the resources to make a detailed analysis of these killings. However, we share the view expressed by UN special rapporteur Philip Alston that the number is much too high. As he also made clear, the problem of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines does not just affect left-wing activists. Political violence associated with the recent national elections led to the deaths of politicians from all parties, as well as supporters, innocent bystanders and election officials. Other groups who have been targeted include journalists, lawyers and judges, while in some towns there are allegations of vigilante death squads targeting criminals. Many of the killings are attributed to private actors, with motives allegedly including land and business disputes, political rivalry and the protection of criminal interests.