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Philippines rights groups urge tougher investigations of extrajudicial killings

[JURIST] Lawyers and human rights advocates called for more rigid procedures governing the investigation of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines at a Monday conference [press release] organized by the Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website]. Edelina dela Paz, chairwoman of human rights group Karapatan [advocacy website], called for a stronger witness protection program, pointing to the murder of a witness who was killed after testifying in front of UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions [official website] Philip Alston. In his February report, Alston found that many of the killings were committed by the Philippine military [JURIST report], which he said was in "a state of denial" about the "significant number of killings" taking place.

Pacifico Agabin, dean of the Lyceum of the Philippines University College of Law, said the court should strip Philippine President Gloria Arroyo [official website; BBC profile] of her immunity from prosecution. As president, Arroyo is commander in chief of the military. Arroyo pledged to fully investigate the killings [JURIST report] following the release of the UN report, but rights groups say she has not fulfilled her promise. AP has more.

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