Posts Tagged ‘extra judicial killings’

Pakistan: summary justice by the police is widespread

February 10, 2018

On 4 February 2018 the Pakistani newspaper The News on Sunday carried the story “Punjab police has a history and reputation of staging fake police encounters. Has anything changed?

A solution for speedy justice
Fake police encounters are said to be more rampant in Punjab province and some urban centres of Sindh, including Karachi. If one takes the case of Punjab, one finds such encounters to be a popular and preferred method of ‘dispensing justice’ adopted by the police. Police encounters have been staged for long but their number is said to have skyrocketed during the tenures of Shehbaz Sharif as the chief minister of Punjab. This has led to the perception that he has full trust in this method of controlling crime and patronises police officers known as encounter specialists. Prized postings and out-of-turn promotions for such officers strengthen this perception.

After tracing the history of police encounters in Punjab the article states that “Killings through police encounters got an exponential boost after Shehbaz Sharif came to power in Punjab in 1997. It was in July 1999 that BBC carried a news story that 850 suspected criminals had been killed by the police in encounters since the PML-N government had taken over in the province. The fact that 20 of them had been killed in just one week in May 1999 had disturbed human rights defenders all over the world. This killing spree was also observed during his second tenure that started in 2013. In 2015 alone, 440 suspects were killed in police encounters in Punjab.

Ejaz Butt, a crime reporter based in Lahore, recalls the time when he says police was said to have been asked by the Shehbaz Sharif government to decimate the top 10 gangsters of the city. He says police would stage encounters without any fear and hold press conference a day before with the criminals in handcuffs. “The officers would tell reporters to ask questions from criminals, saying they would be killed in shootout the next day,” he adds. The need for this clean-up operation was felt when the trader community of the city became fed up with excessive demands for extortion money and paid assassins who were operating everywhere.

Butt says the encounter experts are very much clear about who to shoot down. “The criminals who have fired at policemen, raped female inmates during robberies, killed abducted children even after getting ransom, molested minors, indulged in multiple murders, including those of witnesses are not spared,” he adds. He says they opt for this method as it is difficult to establish these crimes in courts and letting them go will make them commit the same crime again.

Every time there is an encounter there is a judicial inquiry but most of the time fake encounters are hard to establish. Why is it so? Butt explains the reason is that “encounter specialists are also expert in making the encounter plan and executing it. They prepare a sketch of the crime scene beforehand and fire bullets at police van with unlicensed weapons, claimed to be owned by the criminals. Besides, there is no eyewitness because all the roads and pathways leading to the venue of the encounter are blocked for public before it is carried out.”

Sarmad Saeed Khan says the fake encounters are not probed properly because they are done at the behest of the government. “Not even a single fake encounter can be staged by a police officer on his own”. He says not “every police officer is ready to take these orders and only those agree who get the blessings of the government”.

Though these police officers got out-of-turn promotions, he says, “the Supreme Court reversed these which is a good step. But despite this, these officers obey unlawful orders from the government to kill people in encounters. These dreaded officers are also used to pressurise political opponents whenever needed,” he adds.

If there are any demands for investigation, complainants are warned that they can be taken as those attackers if they keep on demanding an inquiry. Moreover “The problem unfortunately is that even the blood relatives disassociate themselves from such cases and disown the deceased due to the stigma attached to them.”

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/solution-speedy-justice/#.Wnni02Z7GV4

 

New coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines tries to deal with killings

November 4, 2017

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Duterte is wrong: Human rights defenders are beautiful !

November 2, 2016

The Philippines seems to get most of its attention nowadays because of the ranting of its President rather than the human rights situation on the ground. That is why wrote a reply in the  of 1 November 2016 under the title “Human rights defenders are beautiful“.

The intruiging title is linked to a recent episode in which President Duterte complimented the Filipino beauty queen, Kylie Verzosa, on her international recognition by saying “You see, Filipinas are beautiful”,  and then added gratuitously “Pero kayong lahat diyan sa human rights commission, mga pangit (But all of you there at the Commission on Human Rights, you are all ugly)”. It would be a mistake to think that this was just another jest. Since the CHR, under then chair Leila de Lima, investigated him in 2009 for possible human rights violations in relation to the killings attributed to the so-called Davao Death Squad, he has harbored a sense of resentment against the constitutional agency which has dared question the rising casualty toll in his so-called war on drugs..
The writer then says: But we should all ask: What have human rights advocates done to deserve such hostility, such cavalier treatment, from the President? Human rights advocates, including those identified with the National Democratic Front, including those who have served and are serving in the CHR, were among those who tried to hold the Marcos regime accountable during the dictatorship itself, and are among those leading the fight to bring the Marcos family to justice. Mr. Duterte’s own mother, who was a leader of the anti-Marcos movement in Davao City, would have recognized them as kindred spirits……….A devout and disciplined Catholic, she would have understood the sacrifice these advocates made, in choosing the less lucrative, much more dangerous career of human rights work. I daresay she would have recognized in them the dignity, the beauty, of the saints: They are doing not only the right, but the beautiful, thing.

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Bodies of disappeared human rights lawyer Kimani and his client found in Kenya

July 3, 2016

A lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client, Josphat Mwenda and their taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri, were last seen returning from a traffic court hearing at Mavoko Law Courts on 23 June 2016. Many feared that they were abducted. Now, on 1 July 2016 their bodies have been found. Kimani was a lawyer with NGO International Justice Mission in Kenya. Kimani had been representing Mwenda in a case he had brought against the police after he was shot by them during a traffic stop.

Kenyan lawyers held a protest http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000207020/lawyers-stage-protest-outside-ig-boinnet-s-office-over-missing-lawyer-client-and-taxi-driver-civil-societies-condemn-disappearance on 30 June, and petitioned the police inspector general for information regarding the men’s whereabouts.

We are deeply saddened by reports of the murders of Kimani, his client, and his taxi driver, and offer our condolences to their families and colleagues who continue to incur great risk fighting for justice and accountability,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “It’s vital for the future of Kenya that its human rights lawyers are able to operate without fear of violence, and that the killers be swiftly brought to justice.”

Police should not hesitate to interrogate and arrest their own officers when there is cause,” said Namwaya of HRW. “This case stands as a clear threat to the legal profession and all those who push for police accountability in Kenya.”

http://www.hrw.org/africa/kenya

[http://www.knchr.org/Portals/0/PressStatements/Joint%20Press%20Release%20-Disappearance%20of%20Willie%20Kimani%20et%20al.pdf]

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/human-rights-first-demands-justice-murder-human-rights-lawyer-kenya

Closing Civil Society Space – a euphemism for Killing Human Rights Defenders

November 30, 2015

The Huffington Post of 29 November 2015 carried a good piece by Brian Dooley (Human Rights First) under the title “When Closing Civil Society Space Means Killing Human Rights Defenders”. He states that “what sometimes gets overlooked in the discussion around “shrinking civil society space” are direct, violent attacks on human rights defenders.”

He refers to this year’s Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) which details killings of HRDs in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. And a Note by the UN Secretary-General in July this year included how “defenders also describe their sense that they are often on their own, with the media showing little interest in reporting acts of aggression against them and with little support from political figures…”

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Human rights defenders squeezed by geo-politics? The cases of Colombia, Iran and Cuba.

September 11, 2015

Health and holidays (in that order) have slowed down my blog production somewhat this summer, but perhaps this was a welcome break for many of my readers for reasons of holiday and health (in that order I hope). Anyway, during these summer months I read quite some instances of HRD repression related to countries involved in major ‘geo-political’ progress and I started wondering whether this is coincidental. Take the following three cases: Colombia, Iran and Cuba. Read the rest of this entry »

UN special rapporteur urged to investigate human rights defenders in the Philippines

December 6, 2014

The UN special rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, has made a fast start with his mandate. Hardly back from Burundi and Morocco, he met with human rights defenders in  Quezon City, Philippines as reported by InterAksyon.com on 6 December 2014.

(Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, with human rights defenders in Quezon City – photo from Karapatan)
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst indicated his interest in filing a request for an official visit after a two-hour meeting late last week with members of Manilakbayan, a contingent of indigenous peoples’ groups and advocates, and representatives of the human rights group Karapatan from Mindanao and Southern Tagalog.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, in a statement, urged the international community and human rights advocates worldwide to “press the Philippine government to accede to the request of the UNSR-HRD to look into the numerous reports of attacks against rights defenders in the country.” Forst’s predecessors — Hina Jilani and Margaret Sekaggya — both submitted several requests to conduct an official investigation in the Philippines, but did not obtain official invitations from the government.

UN special rapporteur wants to probe attacks on PH rights defenders.

FIDH mission reports on Honduran Elections

December 21, 2013

The mission to Honduras was made up of Baltasar Garzón, a Spanish jurist and human rights defender; Luis Guillermo Pérez Casas, attorney and head of the FIDH mission; Lisa Haugaard of the Latin America Working Group; Annie Bird of Rights Action; Mirna Perla, former magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador; Julieta González from APRODEV-Advocacy Program for Central America in Brussels; Susanna Daag from the Copenhagen Initiative for Central America (CIFCA) in Brussels; Hollman Morris, Colombian journalist and human rights defender; Enrique Santiago of the Foro de Abogados of Spain; Beatriz Gil from the Institute for Political Studies on Latin America and Africa (IEPALA) in Spain; and Pascal Paradis from Lawyers without Borders, Canada. The mission was carried out with the support of CIPRODEH.logo FIDH_seul

The report of 20 December 2013 highlights the following:
  • deep concern over the attacks and threats made against the human rights defenders mentioned in its November 23, 2013 press release, including journalists and those who work to defend women, indigenous and Garifuna territories, natural resources, and the lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual, and intersexual community. The mission had access to two blacklists targeting leaders of social and labor organizations, human rights defenders, journalists, and members of the Libertad y Refundación political party and indicating they would be murdered.
  • concern over the recent and apparently arbitrary transfer of public prosecutors who had been working in the Special Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Prosecutors’ Offices and the impact of these transfers on the work necessary to overcome the high level of impunity in the country.
  • number of irregularities in the election process identified through multiple reports from diverse sectors of Honduran civil society.
  • a lack of transparency around the funding of political campaigns and the sources of political party funding.
  • strong presence of the Armed Forces during the course of the elections.
  • reports that during the course of the last few days, four people linked to the Partido Libertad y Refundación have been murdered. These numbers are over and above the 39 murders that have taken place since May of last year, mostly of members of the same party.

for the full text see: International Mission of FIDH with the Support of CIPRODEH on the Honduran Elections – FIDH.

Human Rights Advocacy Group launched for Ethiopia, Benshangul, Gambela, Ogaden Somali, Oromo, Shakacho and Sidama

September 29, 2013

The Ogaden OnLine reports the following on 29 September:

We, the peoples of Benshangul, Gambella, Ogaden Somali, Oromo, Shakacho and Sidama nations unanimously agree to form Human Rights Advocacy Group [HRAG] in order to advocate for the Human Rights of the member communities and other oppressed peoples by the Ethiopian government. HRAG will tirelessly campaign harnessing the combined resources of the aforementioned communities and other support groups. It will expose the crimes the Ethiopian government is committing against the defenceless communities of these peoples, including land grabbing and displacement, mass executions, extra-judicial killings, rampant rape, mass detentions and use of aid as a weapon to gain compliance to the regime marginalization policies. HRAG will conduct targeted advocacy campaign that includes data gathering, advocacy works directed at countries of the world, Human Rights defenders, the AU and the United Nations, and will encourage more vigorous and joint campaigns by all the communities concerned. HRAG informs that the current situation in Ethiopia is very dire and unless urgent measures are taken, a crisis far worse than any seen so far in Africa will unfold. Therefore, HRAG calls the international community, in particular Donor countries, the AU and the UN and EU to make the Ethiopian government accountable for its flagrant Human Rights violations.Finally, HRAG calls upon all peoples in Ethiopia to stand up together and confront the perpetrators.Justice for all nations and nationalities.

While any new group with a focus on the defense of human rights is welcome – and in view of the means employed by the Ethiopian government also needed – the statement would have gained from a clear position that violent means will not be employed or advocated.

via Ogaden Online: The official homepage of Ogaden on the Internet – Human Rights Advocacy Group HRAG.

Philippine Military admits that Human Rights Defender Bayles was killed by them

April 23, 2013

Karl Ombion, writing for Bulatlat.com, reports that in a court hearing on 18 April 2013  at RTC Branch 55, in Himamaylan City, Adjutant General Alexis Gopico and Lt. Col Ricardo B Bayhon positively identified the two suspects in the brutal murder of Philippine human rights defender Benjamin Bayles as military enlisted men. Edre Olalia, legal counsel of the victim’s family, and Secretary General of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), confirmed this report. Bayles was murdered 14 June 2010 by two suspects who claimed to be Roger Bajon and Ronnie Caurino when they were captured by Himamaylan police operatives hours after the incident.  Olalia said “the confirmation, positive identification and specific personal pinpointing of the killers of activist Benjamen Bayles by top army officials as enlisted personnel under their command is a welcome development and a high point in making perpetrators of extra judicial killings accountable.This is ultimately a product of public vigilance and pressure by human rights defenders aided also by conscientious legal work, Olalia stressed, but it remains to be seen if this leads to a deeper investigation, determination of other guilty parties, including possibly, superior officers. The accused who are lowly private first class personnel maybe sacrificial dispensable small fry to stop the investigation and let masterminds escape identification and prosecution.”“As in other cases, like that of Jonas Burgos, extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances and other rights violations, there is no closure until there is full justice for the victims,” Olalia concluded.

via Military admits Bayles killers as their own « Bulatlat.