Respect rights of suspected Abu cohorts

MANILA, Philppines—With the province of Sulu under a state of emergency, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday reminded government agents to respect the rights of people they would pick up on suspicions that they are members or supporters of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.

“While we recognize authority of government, national or local to declare state of emergency to address crisis situations, CHR reminds enforcers of the governor’s edict of the need to go through the proper legal processes,” CHR chairman Leila de Lima said in a statement.

Provincial governor Abdusakur Tan imposed a state of emergency in the small southern island last March 31, following the threat of the Abu Sayyaf that it would behead one of its then three hostages from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Late last week, the terrorists released Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba but held on to Swiss national Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni.

Among the provisions in the state of emergency was to “conduct general search and seizure operations, including arrests, in the pursuit only of the kidnappers and their supporters” and the implementation of “other such actions or police operations as may be necessary to ensure public safety.”

“In trying to unmask ASG co-conspirators, cohorts and supporters among the ranks of local and barangay (village) officials and even PNP (Philippine National Police) officers and personnel, they should be mindful and respectful of the human rights of those involved,” De Lima said.

She added that the CHR had received a letter from Tan requesting for a CHR extension office in Sulu which included an offer to provide an office space for the CHR team.

De Lima said Tan’s request would be taken up at the CHR’s en banc meeting on Tuesday.

She said the CHR regional office based in Zamboanga City and headed by lawyer Jose Manuel Mamauang already dispatched a team to Sulu “to monitor the human rights situation, document possible (human rights) violations and assist victims if any.”

Nikko Dizon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm  Comments Off on Respect rights of suspected Abu cohorts  
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