Philippines: Killing of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos

09/11/2018
Urgent Appeal

PHL 005 / 1118 / OBS 132
Killing
Philippines
November 9, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.


Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the killing of human rights lawyer Mr. Benjamin Ramos, a founding member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and the Secretary General of its chapter in Negros Occidental Province. He was also a well-known advocate for peasants’ rights and the Executive Director of the Paghidaet sa Kauswagan Development Group (PDG), a non-governmental organisation assisting peasants in the same province.

According to the information received, on November 6, 2018, at 10:50 pm, Mr. Benjamin Ramos was shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen in front of a store in Barangay 5, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Province. His body sustained at least three gunshot wounds. He was brought to the Holy Mercy Hospital in Kabankalan City, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Mr. Ramos was a well-known human rights defender who provided pro-bono legal aid to victims of human rights abuses, representing the most marginalized people in the Philippines, including peasants, political prisoners, and victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Most recently, Mr. Ramos was representing the families of nine farmers who were killed after joining a protest on a sugarcane plantation in Sagay City, Negros Occidental Province, on October 20, 2018.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Mr. Benjamin Ramos and urges the authorities of the Philippines to carry out a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into his murder without undue delay and to hold those responsible accountable.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the surge of killings and attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines and reiterates its call upon the authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the country and to ensure proper investigations into these killings and attacks.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the Philippines asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the murder of Mr. Benjamin Ramos in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

· H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: +632 742-1641 / 929-3968, Email: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/;
· Mr. Teodoro Locsin Jr, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Email: osec@dfa.gov.ph;
· Hon. Menardo Guevarra, Secretary, Department of Justice of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email: communications@doj.gov.ph;
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Fax: +632 929 0102, Email:chairgascon.chr@gmail.com;
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32 Email: mission@genevapm.ph;
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 02 345 64 25, Email: brusselspe@gmail.com.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, November 9, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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