Pakistan: “Shoot to Kill”-Order Issued in the Context of Parliamentary Elections Violation alleged: Deaths due to attacks or killings by security forces
Subject(s) of appeal: General
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Pakistan has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 21 January 2008 I am writing concerning information I have received that President Pervez Musharraf gave orders on 14 January 2008 that Pakistan’s Army and the Paramilitary Rangers were to “shoot to kill” rioters and anyone who tried to disrupt the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Without wishing to prejudge this information, I would like to remind your government of the relevant standards of international human rights law. Human rights law protects every individual’s inherent right to life (Article 6, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)). While your government does have a due diligence obligation to protect the lives of persons within your territory and jurisdiction from attacks from criminals, the intentional lethal use of force by police may only be used against suspected criminals where it is in fact strictly unavoidable in order to protect life (Article 6 of the ICCPR, as expressed in Principle 9 of the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (Basic Principles)).
As I have previously reported, “the rhetoric of shoot-to-kill serves only to displace clear legal standards with a vaguely defined licence to kill, risking confusion among law enforcement officers, endangering innocent persons, and rationalizing mistakes” (Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, UN Doc E/CN.4/2006/53, 8 March 2006). Your government’s laws must “strictly control and limit the circumstances” in which law enforcement officers may resort to lethal force (Baboeram v Suriname, UN Human Rights Committee (4 April 1985), paragraph 14). Less than lethal police tactics must be attempted where feasible. And, unless it would unduly risk death or serious harm to law enforcement officers or other persons, law enforcement officers must give suspects the opportunity to surrender and must employ a graduated resort to force (Principles 4 and 10, Basic Principle; Suárez de Guerrero v Colombia, UN Human Rights Committee, 31 March 192, paragraph 13.2).
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these alleged incidents, I would be grateful for your cooperation and observations on the following three matters:
1. Did President Musharraf give “shoot to kill” orders as detailed above?
2. If so, please provide the precise terms of the “shoot to kill” order. Specifically, please indicate: (a) over what period of time and in what circumstances the order will apply; (b) whether it applies to all of Pakistan, or to a specific geographic area; (c) to whom the order gives authority to “shoot to kill”; and (d) any limits on the use of force provided by the order.
3. Please indicate what processes are or will be put in place to independently investigate any alleged killings by your law enforcement officials while the “shoot to kill” order is in place.
4. Please clarify whether, and if so, how, the “shoot to kill” order complies with your government’s international human rights obligations as detailed above.
Pakistan: Death Sentence of Zahid Masih Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male
Character of reply: No response (recent communication)
Observations of the Special Rapporteur The Special Rapporteur looks forward to receiving a response concerning these allegations.
Urgent appeal dated 7 March 2008 sent with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture We would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding Mr. Zahid Masih, who was reportedly sentenced to death after having been allegedly tortured in pre-trial detention and who is scheduled to be executed on 12 March 2008.
According to the information we have received:
Mr. Zahid Masih, a member of the Regiment/Unit 4 Commando Battalion (Special Service Group) Chirat, was sentenced to death by hanging by a military court on 10 March 2006 for sodomy and murder of a nine-year old boy on 1 March 2005. He was held in incommunicado military pre-trial detention and allegedly subjected to torture in order to force him to confess. Concern has been expressed that he was denied a fair trial and in particular had no legal representation. His appeal of clemency to the President was turned down.
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the reports received, we would like to draw the attention of your Excellency’s Government to several principles applicable to this case under international law.
We would in the first place respectfully remind your Excellency’s Government that according to the well-established international standard in capital punishment cases, the obligation of states to observe rigorously all the guarantees for a fair trial admits no exception. (See, Little v. Jamaica, communication no. 283/1988, Views of the Human Rights Committee of 19 November 1991, para. 10). Relevant to the case at issue, this guarantee includes the right not to be compelled to confess guilt. Another central element of the right to a fair hearing is the right to be assisted by legal counsel. In this respect, we would also like to refer Your Excellency's Government to the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September 1990. Principle 6 is particularly pertinent to the present case: “Any such persons [charged with a criminal offence] who do not have a lawyer shall, in all cases in which the interests of justice so require, be entitled to have a lawyer of experience and competence commensurate with the nature of the offence assigned to them in order to provide effective legal assistance, without payment by them if they lack sufficient means to pay for such services.”
We also recall that Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/39 urges States to ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made. This principle is an essential aspect of the right to physical and mental integrity set forth, inter alia, in article 12 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which provides that, “Any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment may not be invoked as evidence against the person concerned or against any other person in any proceedings.”
We urge your Excellency’s Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights under international law of Zahid Masih are respected. This can only mean suspension of the capital punishment until the allegations of torture and denial of fair trial have been thoroughly investigated and all doubts in this respect dispelled. Moreover, international law requires that the accountability of any person guilty of subjecting Zahid Masih to torture is ensured.
It is our responsibility under the mandates provided to us by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the above reports accurate, particularly regarding access to legal counsel? If not so, please share all information and documents proving their inaccuracy.
2. Please provide details regarding the steps undertaken to investigate the reports of torture and any proceedings initiated against persons suspected of having tortured Zahid Masih.
Papua New Guinea: Killings by Private Security Forces at the Porgera Joint Venture Gold Mine Violation alleged: Deaths due to attacks or killings by security forces
Subject(s) of appeal: At least 8 persons
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Papua New Guinea has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 18 January 2008 I am writing concerning information I have received that at least eight Porgera residents have been killed since 1993 by private security forces at the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine in Porgera, Enga province, Papua New Guinea.
According to information received:
The number of killings at the mine ranges from 8 to 29. Allegations received state that Placer Dome, the former majority owner of the PJV mine admitted that 8 persons had been shot by PJV security. Allegations received also state that other sources indicate higher numbers of deaths. One source alleges that the following 14 persons were shot by PJV security: Henry Tendeke; Taitia Maliapa; Paul Pindi; John Wangla; Pyakani Tombe; Yandari Pyari; Jerry Yope; Jackson Yalo; Joe Opotaro; Aglio Wija; Mina Mulako; Alonge Laswi; Minata Pita; and Pyakane Eremi. The allegations received indicate that other sources put the number of killings at 29.
Further, according to information received, there has been a failure by your Government to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of each of these killings. Allegations received indicate that very few of the killings have been adequately investigated. A Government Commission of Inquiry was established in 2006 to report on the causes of deaths at the PJV mine. Following the apparent failure of the regular investigative procedures, I commend your Government for instituting a special inquiry. However, according to the reports received, the findings of this Commission of Inquiry have not been made public, despite repeated requests from PNG citizens.
Without in any way implying any conclusions as to the facts or the accuracy of the information which I have received, I would like to refer your Government to the applicable principles of international human rights law. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provide that every person has the right to life. I would like to recall that, as stated in Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2005/34 on “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions”, all states have the obligation to “conduct exhaustive and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to identify and bring to justice those responsible … and to adopt all necessary measures, including legal and judicial measures, in order to bring an end to impunity and to prevent the recurrence of such executions.” This obligation, affirmed in the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee (see Arhuacos v Colombia, Communication no. 612/1995, para. 88), is part of the obligation to respect and protect the right to life enshrined in the UDHR and the ICCPR.
In light of the apparent lack of publication of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry report, I would like to clarify that for such inquiries to be acceptable, the results must be made public, and include details of the findings, and any prosecutions subsequently undertaken (see Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions, E/CN.4/2006/53 (8 March 2006).
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these alleged incidents, I would be grateful for your cooperation and observations on the following matters:
1. How many people have been killed by PJV private security, or PNG police, at the PJV minesite since it began operations? What are their names, dates, the circumstances of each of these deaths?
2. Please provide details and results of all police or medical examinations (autopsy), and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to each death. If no inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
3. If the perpetrators have been identified, please provide the full details of any prosecutions which have been undertaken.
4. What PNG laws or agreements govern the use of force by private security forces and police forces? What lethal and less than lethal weapons are the forces permitted to carry? What oversight does the Government of PNG exercise over the security forces employed at the mine site?
5. What compensation, if any, has been provided to the families of the deceased?
Philippines: Impunity for Killings of Leftist Activists Violation alleged: Impunity
Subject(s) of appeal: 2 females; 8 males
Character of reply: Largely satisfactory response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur The Special Rapporteur appreciates the information provided by the Government of the Philippines. The SR notes that he reported on the overall pattern of killings of human rights defenders following a visit to the Philippines in February 2007 (A/HRC/8/3/Add.2). The SR would, however, appreciate receiving updated information should any progress be made in achieving justice in these individual cases.
Letter of allegation dated 2 June 2006 with the Special Representative of the Secretary- General on the situation of human rights defenders
In this connection, we would like to bring to your Government’s attention information we have received concerning a sharp increase in reports of killings of human rights activists who are believed to be targeted for their activities for the promotion of human rights. According to the information we have received:
More than thirty killings of human rights defenders have taken place during the first quarter of 2006 alone. The cases listed in the annex to this letter are illustrative of this broader tendency and share certain common elements: a majority of victims are reported to have been shot at point-blank range by unidentified gunmen. Besides, none of these killings has reportedly been investigated and perpetrators remain at large. Reports also indicate that this figure is only indicative of a much higher criminal rate against human rights activists who continue to carry out their work in an increasingly dangerous environment.
In this connection, we regret that your Excellency’s Government has failed to provide us with sufficient information as requested in our letters -sent over the last two years- with regard to the thorough investigation of such killings and the outcome of relevant criminal and judicial proceedings.
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we urge your Excellency’s Government to take effective measures against impunity to deter and prevent further assassinations of human rights defenders.
In this respect, we would like to recall that, as reiterated in Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2005/34 on “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” (OP 4), all States have “the obligation … to conduct exhaustive and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to identify and bring to justice those responsible, … and to adopt all necessary measures, including legal and judicial measures, in order to bring an end to impunity and to prevent the recurrence of such executions”. This obligation, affirmed also in the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee (see, e.g. the Committee’s views in Arhuacos v. Colombia, Communication no. 612/1995, § 8.8.), is indeed part and parcel of the obligation to respect and protect the right to life enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We would also like to refer Your Excellency's Government to the fundamental principles set forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in particular articles 1 and 2 which state that everyone has the right individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and that “each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice”.
Furthermore, we would like to bring your Excellency’s attention to the following provisions, and in particular:
- article 12 paras 2 and 3 of the Declaration which provide that the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions also wishes to remind your Excellency’s attention that, to date, he has not received a response to his request for a factfinding mission. If accepted, a visit would allow him to examine in situ questions relating to impunity and to formulate pertinent recommendations with the objective of strengthening the protection of the right to life.
It is our responsibility under the mandate provided to us by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we am expected to report on these cases, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the facts alleged in the annexed summary of the case accurate?
2. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examinations, or other inquiries which may have been carried out in relation to these cases. If no inquiries have taken place or if they have been inconclusive please explain why.
4. In the event that the alleged perpetrators are identified, please provide the full details of any prosecutions which have been undertaken; have penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions been imposed on the alleged perpetrators?
5. Please indicate whether witnesses to these attacks have been afforded with adequate security and witness protection.
6. Please indicate whether compensation has been provided to the victims and the families of the victims.
On 27 March 2006, Mr Vicente Denila, member of the Camansi Farm Workers’ Cooperative (CFWC) and an active defender of farmers’ rights, was shot and killed by unknown armed men in Negros Oriental.
On 5 April 2006, Mr Florencio Perez Cervantes, an active supporter of the Bayan Muna (People First) political party and community spokesman, was killed in his house in Barngay village, Santa Cruz, Rosario, Agusan del Sur. Armed men clad in bonnets forcibly entered the house and reportedly shot at Mr Perez Cervantes and his family while they were asleep. Mr Perez Cervantes suffered 47 gunshot wounds to his body. According to a statement made by the 36th Infant Battalion of the Philippine Army, Mr Perez Cervantes was killed in crossfire. To date, his murder has not been investigated.
On 15 April 2006, Mr Rico Adeva, a land rights activist and staff member of the Task Force Mapalad (TFM), was shot and killed with his wife while he was on his to Talisay. Three armed men reportedly asked the couple to lie down and shot several times in their head, neck, hands and torso.
On 22 April 2006, Mr Porferio Magsalang, an active defender of rural workers and Chair of the Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukind (PKMM), was shot and killed by four unidentified armed men, who entered his home in Sitio Caraan, Brangay Tampalon.
On 24 April 2006, Mr Enrico Cabanit, Chairperson of WADECOR Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (WEARBAI) and Secretary General of Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (National Coordination of Local Autonomous Rural People’s Organisations- UNORKA), was shot in the head and killed at the Panabo Public Market by two unidentified individuals. His 23 year old daughter, Daffodil also member of UNORKA, was also seriously injured in the attack, sustaining a gunshot wound in her chest. She was transferred in a critical condition to the hospital. A few hours before his killing, Mr Cabanit had participated in a successful dialogue between the Davao del Norte plantation workers and officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform. During this meeting, he had requested that some land belonging to a local landowner Don Antonio Floirendo be included in the list of plots to be redistributed by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP) to poor farmers in the region. This attack occurred less than two months before the National Congress of UNORKA was to be held in Panabo in June 2006.
On 10 May 2006 Ms Elena Mandiola, secretary general of the Bayan Muna (People First) party, and her husband Mr Ricardo Balauag, were killed by armed men in Barangay Gair, Echague, Isabela. It is reported that Ms Elena Mandiola had previously been the subject of an attempt on her life on 10 March 2006.
On 18 May 2006 Ms Annaliza Abanador-Gandia a pro democracy activist and leader of the Pagkakaisan ng Kabababain (Kaisa Ka), an organisation that works in defence of women’s rights, was shot and killed by two unknown gunmen. It is alleged that she was working inside the Duckie shop in Batanga City when two men arrived on a motorcycle and entered the shop. It is reported that Ms Annaliza Abanador-Gandi suffered multiple gun shot wounds to her head and body.
On 21 May 2006 Reverend Andy Pawican, a pastor with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and a defender of the rights of rural workers was shot and killed by armed men in Barangay Fatima, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija.
On 27 May 2006 Mr Noel Capulong, spokesperson for the Southern Tagalog Environmental Action Movement and deputy secretary general of Bayan Muna in Southern Tagalog was shot and killed by unknown armed men.
Since August 2005, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, along with other Special Procedures mandate holders, has issued five communications concerning the killings of eight human rights defenders. On 11 May 2005, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions also sent a letter of allegation concerning the extrajudicial killing of a labour rights activist by members of the military forces. To date, the Government of the Philippines has only responded to one of the communication sent by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions as reflected in his report on communications (see E/CN.4/2006/53/Add.1).