KARAPATAN, human rights group

Re: KARAPATAN, human rights group

To: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

From: Charles B. Davison, member of LRWC

Date: 2004-10-27

I am writing to you at this time concerning the situation of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN) and an incident which occurred during the early morning hours of October 9, 2004 outside the offices of this organization in Manila. I am a member and am writing on behalf of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, which is a committee of Canadian lawyers dedicated to promoting and protecting the rule of law, and the security of human rights defenders around the world. A key component of LRWC’s work is promoting the implementation and enforcement of human rights by protecting lawyers and other advocates who defend them.

We understand that around 3:15 a.m. the morning of October 9, staff members of KARAPATAN and some of the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) and their family members in the area, were awakened by loud banging and yelling at the gate to the compound where the offices are located. A group of masked men were outside the yard, banging on the entrance and yelling insults against the organizations and individual members. Some of the comments made called for justice in the case of the killing of a founder of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army in early September, 2004. After the men left the gate area, staff of KARAPATAN went outside and found flyers and posters on the ground and in the area, which contained allegations of a link between this organization and that thought to be responsible for the death of the RPA leader.

We are concerned about what seems to be an attempt to harass and threaten a non-violent, legally-oriented group which seeks to promote and protect the human rights of all persons at the hands of a violent organization which has been linked to other crimes, including deaths of workers and farmers in other parts of the Philippines.

We respectfully call upon you to ensure that there will be no future harassment, intimidation or threats against KARAPATAN or EMJP, or any other human rights defender in your country. We call for the independent investigation of the events of October 9 described above, and for any persons found to be responsible to be brought to justice in accordance with the law. We ask you to take immediate steps to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, and in particular, Article 12.2 of that declaration, which requires all states to take steps to protect the rights and well-being of individuals involved in human rights promotion and work.