We commend the improvements in providing access to justice, especially through the expansion of small claims courts, provision of mobile courts, and adoption of practices that make courts accessible to members of underrepresented groups.
We recognize the Philippines’s significant progress in combating trafficking in persons. We sincerely hope that the momentum will continue and result in increased prosecutions and even stronger protections.
Despite these commendable advances to human rights, we are concerned that access to justice remains unattainable for the victims, and their families, of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances committed by members of security forces.
We are concerned that institutional barriers to fighting impunity and corruption in the Philippines will prevent the country from attaining its full potential as a just, fair, and rights-respecting society.
Our concern persists despite the use of new tools, including the Usig and 211Task Forces, expanded mandates for prosecutors, and training in human rights for the armed forces and police. Prosecutions for extrajudicial killings, including those committed by security forces, remain elusive.
Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States makes the following recommendations:
End impunity for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, including those perpetrated by security forces, by undertaking thorough investigations and vigorous prosecutions of perpetrators;
Increase human rights training, awareness, and funding at all levels of the Armed Forces and National Police to ensure military and law enforcement officials protect human rights and thoroughly investigate allegations of violations; and
Take new, additional measures, to ensure that the military exercises full control over Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units and the police over Civilian Volunteer Organizations, holding these units accountable for the Philippines’ obligations under international human rights law.