Juvy Magsino and Leima Fortu

Re: Juvy Magsino and Leima Fortu

To: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic

From: Steven M. Kelliher of LRWC

Date: 2004-02-14

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of Canadian lawyers provides support internationally to lawyers in danger and promotes the enforcement of human rights standards protecting the right and duty of lawyers to uphold the rule of law.

I write to you in reaction the murders of two of your citizens: Mrs. Juvy Magsino and Leima Fortu. Any wanton taking of a life is tragic but when it is reasonably thought that governing officials have had a hand in the killing of those with the courage to act and speak out against abuse of fundamental human rights, there is an additional element of enduring gravity.

Surely as a signatory of the Rome Statute your government realizes that the age of official impunity for acts such as these is fast waning. The International Criminal Court is in place; the judges are awaiting there first cases and the Prosecutor is deciding which they will be. Of course the principle of complimentarity governs. If the Phillipines is prepared to effectively investigate and prosecute those who commit such crimes there is no cause for the international community to intervene. If not; it will.

The next decade will witness heads of government and their functionaries who today brutalize their people and murder those who stand for human rights, brought to account before the international community. Do not think that military power or even friendship with greater powers will furnish immunity. Do not think that the deaths of these two brave women have gone unnoticed, nor should you or your military associates take any comfort that many others who have spoken out against your government have disappeared. They have not disappeared from the record kept by those people and organizations around the world who will not forget what is happening in the Philippines and who will not tire in holding to account those responsible.