Chairwoman Hautala calls ASEAN to ensure effective investigation of the killig of Mr Estrope Bayles in Philippines, on 14th of June.[:]
Dr Surin Pitsuwan
Secretary General of ASEAN
The ASEAN Secretariat
70A, Jalan Sisingamangaraja
Brussels, 19 November 2010
Dear Secretary General,
Please allow me to firstly express my sincere congratulations for the establishment of an ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. This is vitally important step in the development of ASEAN as an organisation that protects and promotes universal human rights values. The European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights has followed these developments with great interest and looks forward to close cooperation with the Commission.
With these words of wishing well, I am, however, obliged to raise a matter that is of great concern to me.
In October my office received a visit by Attorney Benjamin Ramos from the Philippines. He brings informed me of deeply worrying news concerning the case of Mr Estrope Bayles. Mr Bayles was a human rights advocate in the Philippines, who had openly denounced the abuses by the Philippine Army against farmers and agricultural workers and assisted the affected families in many ways, including in finding legal advice.
On June 14, 2010, Mr Bayles was fatally shot in Sitio Antolo, Barangay Su-ay, Himamaylan City in the Philippines. I have received information that points to severe shortcomings and irregularities in the investigation by the Himamaylan City Philippine National Police (PNP) of this homicide. After studying the material, my concerns as to the trial proceedings of the case have also been aroused. Of all, I am most disturbed by the reports that some of the witnesses and journalists who have commented on the irregularities of the case have been threatened.
With these concerns in mind, I turn to you to appeal that you make all efforts in your power to encourage the Philippine authorities to ensure that appropriate procedure will be followed in the investigation, that fair trial and safety of witnesses be guaranteed.
I remain convinced that doing justice in the case of Mr Bayles is a key test for the commitment of the government of Philippine government to respecting human rights.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights
Cc: Ms Leila de Lima, the Secretary of the Philippines Department of Justice