Human Rights Watch (HRW) Monday condemned the execution of three civilians by the Communist New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The executions occurred in the province of Negros Occidental in the Philippines during August following a series of allegedly unfair trials.
In a statement, Command of the NPA Roselyn Jean Pelle confirmed the three executions. Two of the men were shot at their homes, and the third man was stopped and killed while riding a motorbike with his children. The NPA justified the executions by referring to the individual’s alleged offenses, including drug dealing, theft and acting as military informants. The NPA labelled the individuals in question as “criminals and counter-revolutionaries.”
The NPA have their own pseudo-judicial system, known as the People’s Court, where they determine the punishments of alleged perpetrators. The NPA confirmed that the allegations against the men in this instance were submitted before the People’s Court and “underwent in-depth investigation and trial.” The right to a fair trial is a fundamental protection under international law. This requires that individuals are afforded certain protections, such as the right to adequate legal representation and, crucially, the right to be present and have the opportunity to defend oneself. However, the lack of information provided by the NPA in relation to the trials casts doubt over the fairness of the process.
Carlos Conde of HRW commented, “The New People’s Army has a long history of executing people following trials that don’t meet the most basic standards of fairness.” The sparse information provided by the armed group about the three recent executions suggests that once again the most severe punishments “were inflicted without any regard for fundamental precepts of international law.”
Human Rights Watch has attempted to contact the NPA seeking details of their trials process, but there has been no “substantive” response yet.