Swedish and Finnish Experts to Help Philippines Solve Extra-Judicial Killing

Six experts, including a senior Swedish police officer, a German diplomat and prosecutor, a Finnish professor of international humanitarian law and a British prosecutor and expert in international cooperation, will be in Philippines from June 18 to 28, EU officials said, lamenting that the killings continue unabated.
About 50 journalists have also been killed since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took power in 2001, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
Arroyo, in a dialogue with media groups, ordered the designation of a special prosecution team to handle the media killings.
“We will also get a handle on these killings to end them once and for all,” Arroyo said. “If rogue members of police and military are involved, we’ve all agreed that they shall be punished.”
“The purpose of the mission is to identify capabilities and needs for technical assistance, whether of government agencies or civil society,” said Alistair MacDonald, the head of the European Commission’s delegation in the Philippines.
He said the team’s primary focus will be to provide training and advice, not to investigate.
“The fact remains that the killings continue. The fact remains that prosecutions and convictions are not easy,” he told reporters.
The human rights group Karapatan has reported more than 800 people killed and another 200 abducted and missing nationwide since 2001.
Most of the victims are activists from left-wing groups often branded by the military as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People’s Army, which have been included on U.S. and EU terrorist lists.
“Inclusion in a terrorist list is not, in any standards in any society, under any circumstances, an excuse to go and kill people” or to authorize “some forces in the country to go and kill them without the benefit of due process,” MacDonald said.
U.N. investigator Philip Alston earlier this year slammed the military for being in “a state of denial” about the “significant number of killings” of left-wing activists by soldiers.
A fact-finding commission created by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has issued a report saying a retired army general and his superiors may be responsible.

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