USA: Arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, and subsequent deportation of Mr. Jerome Succor Aba

26/04/2018
Urgent Appeal

USA 001 / 0418 / OBS 055
Arbitrary detention / Ill-treatment /
Release / Obstacles to freedoms of
movement and assembly
USA

April 26, 2018

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

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan) about the arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, and subsequent deportation of Mr. Jerome Succor Aba, Chairperson of the human rights organisation Suara Bangsamoro, Co-Chairperson of the Sanduogu Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination, and peace activist, upon his arrival in the USA.

According to the information received, on April 17, 2018, at around 8 pm, Mr. Jerome Succor Aba was arrested by US Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection officials upon his arrival at San Francisco International Airport. Mr. Aba had travelled to the USA to participate as a resource speaker in the 2018 Ecumenical Advocacy Days and the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour in Washington D.C., arranged by the Human Rights Office of the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and the US chapter of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP). Mr. Aba had been granted a ten-year multiple entry visa by the US Embassy in Manila on March 27, 2018, prior to travelling to the USA. He was notably expected to join various activities in the US to discuss the human rights situation and martial law in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Immediately after being arrested, Mr. Aba was taken from the immigration desk to the Homeland Security office for interrogation, where he underwent a thorough body search, was forced to strip naked, had all his belongings confiscated, and was handcuffed.

Throughout the interrogation, officials accused him of being a “terrorist” and a “communist”. He was not read his Miranda rights until the end of his interrogation, and his right to remain silent was omitted. Despite his repeated requests, he was denied access to a lawyer. Human rights organisations protesting outside the airport also insisted on gaining access to him, but were not allowed to speak to him. Following his interrogation, he was forced to sign several blank documents and give a statement on camera stating that he had not been tortured by the authorities, under the impression that it would make his release possible.

At no time during his detention was Mr. Aba granted access to a lawyer, nor was he given a clear reason for his detention or denial of entry in the USA. It was only towards the end of this detention that he was able to speak with the Philippine Consulate over the phone.

At 12:30 am on April 19, 2018, Mr. Aba was put on a plane back to the Philippines. Once the plane landed in Manila, the cabin crew handed Mr. Aba his cell phone together with his flight ticket from Manila to Davao.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, and subsequent deportation of Mr. Jerome Succor Aba, and calls upon the US authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of movement, peaceful assembly, and association of all human rights defenders in the USA.

The Observatory further urges the Government of the Philippines to ensure thatMr. Jerome Succor Aba will not be subjected to further acts of harassment in the Philippines.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the United States of America urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr.Jerome Succor Aba as well as of all human rights defenders in the USA;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the freedoms of movement, peaceful assembly and association of Mr. Jerome Succor Aba, as well as of all human rights defenders in the USA;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment against Mr. Jerome Succor Aba, as well as of all human rights defenders in the USA, especially through the use of immigration laws, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conduct a prompt, independent, and thorough investigation into the above-mentioned events, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, and in particular to Articles 1, 5, 12.1 and 12.2;

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

Please write to the authorities in the Philippines, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr.Jerome Succor Aba, as well as of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

ii. Refrain from any acts of harassment against Mr. Jerome Succor Aba, as well as all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iii. Conform with 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;

iv. 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:

Authorities in the United States of America:

· H.E. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, Email:https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact , Twitter: @realDonaldTrump
· H.E. John Sullivan, Acting Secretary of State of the USA, Email:https://register.state.gov/contactus/, Twitter: @StateDept
· Ms. Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security of the USA, Email: DHSSecretary@hq.dhs.gov, Twitter: @DHSgov
· Mr. Kevin K. McAleenan, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Email: https://help.cbp.gov/app/ask, Twitter: @CBP_McAleenan
· H.E. Sung Y. Kim, Ambassador, Embassy of the United States of America to the Philippines, Fax: (+623) 301-2017, Email: ACSInfoManila@state.gov, Twitter: @USAmbManila
· Mr. Matthew Lussenhop, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Brussels, Fax: +32 2 811-4500, Twitter: @usembbrussels
· Mr. Theodore. Allegra, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations Office in Geneva,
Fax: +41 22 749 48 80, Email: GenevaUSmission@state.gov

Authorities in the Philippines:

· H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
· Mr. Alan Peter Cayetano, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Email: osec@dfa.gov.ph, Twitter: @alanpcayetano
· 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, E-mail: brusselspe@gmail.com

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the United States of America and the Philippines located in your country.

***
Geneva-Paris, April 26, 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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