Friday, October 30, 2015

Human Rights Watch condemns slaying of Otazas by NPA as murder

From the Website of INQUIRER

Human Rights Watch condemns slaying of Otazas by NPA as murder

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The execution of mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, Agusan del Sur and his son on October 19 was plain murder and could not be justified, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday.

Mayor Dario Otaza
Mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, Agusan del Sur poses for an interview with reporters in December last year saying his town has managed to drive away communist insurgents from the New People’s Army and dissuaded residents from joining the group. He was once an NPA rebel himself who returned to the fold of the law and managed to enter politics. He and his 27-year-old son were slain by the NPA recently. DENNIS JAY SANTOS/INQUIRER MINDANAO
The New People’s Army (NPA) owned up to the abduction and eventual execution of the 53-year old Otaza and the 27-year old Daryl, saying it was revolutionary justice.

“The killing of the Otazas – like other NPA executions – is just plain murder,” Phil Robertson, HRW deputy Asia director, said in a media statement.

Robertson said while the rebel group frequently killed people found guilty by the so-called people’s courts, the trials were far from being fair.

“The NPA’s actions and claims of revolutionary justice handed down by people’s courts are flagrant violations of international law,” he said.

Robertson said “as a party to an internal armed conflict, the NPA is obligated to abide by international humanitarian law, including common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Second Additional Protocol of 1977 (Protocol II), to which the Philippines is party.”

“International humanitarian law prohibits killing civilians, mistreating anyone in custody, and convicting anyone in proceedings that do not meet international fair trial standards,” he added citing Article 6 of Protocol II – which says that criminal courts must be independent and impartial.

People accused of crime should also have “all necessary rights and means of defense,” according to Robertson.

But under the NPA’s revolutionary justice, he said that the accused were tried and convicted in absentia, “thus denied the right to be tried in one’s presence before an impartial court.”

“The NPA should end this charade of unjust ‘people’s courts’ and cease all executions,” Robertson said.

Philip Alston, the former United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, said the NPA’s claim that the Otazas were given fair trial was “not supported by the facts.”

Alston also described the so-called people’s courts as “either deeply flawed or simply a sham.”

HRW warned that the NPA killings could worsen the human rights situation in Agusan del Sur and other provinces.

“By resorting to vigilantism in the name of justice, the NPA is only serving to harm its own demands for justice for victims of military human rights violations,” Robertson warned.