Philippines: Court excludes UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people from terrorism proscription case

In March 2018, the Department of Justice filed a petition seeking to declare as terrorist organisations the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army. The names of more than 600 individuals were also included in the petition, including Un Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. 

On 08 August 2018, reports indicate that a court has excluded Ms. Corpuz from the case, alongside 3 other individuals. The case against the CPP and the NPA will proceed, according to the judge.

This story will document the progress of this case, with focus on the developments surrounding the inclusion of indigenous peoples and community leaders.

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Autor/in: Lian Buan, Rappler

"Manila court clears 4 in DOJ's terror tag request," 08 August 2018

The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 cleared Satur Ocampo, Rafael Baylosis, Jose Melencio Molintas, and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from the government petition seeking to declare them and hundreds of others as terrorists.

But Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar will proceed with the main content of the petition that seeks to declare the organization Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) a terror group...

 The 4 who were cleared were among the 649 names that the Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted to the court as alleged members or leaders of the CPP-NPA who should be declared as terrorists alongside the organization itself.

 Despite this, the tagging of the 4 as terrorists "has already put their lives and security at risk."

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Autor/in: Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Financial Times

29 March 2018

When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety. Then, I started to speak out. Again.

I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers.

The country leads Asia in the number of murders of indigenous and environmental activists, with 41 people killed last year... 

My colleagues insist that my name is on the list in retaliation for speaking out on rights abuses against indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao. The UN has been trying to draw attention to this crisis since 2003, as corporate interests have colluded with government officials to clear the lands of their inhabitants, avoid obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, and remove the most outspoken leaders.My next report to the UN will focus on the topic of indigenous criminalisation...

..If I am arrested, or personally attacked, this next UN report might be delayed, but I am only one of the many messengers speaking out against the many violations of human rights. 

You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard.

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Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

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