US group says Philippine death squad killed 298
US group says Philippine death squad killed 298
Human Rights Watch said in a report that it had documented at least a dozen of the 298 killings from January 2007 to March 2013 based largely on accounts of former hit men, witnesses, relatives of victims and police officers in Tagum City, the capital of Davao del Norte province.
Former Mayor Rey Uy denied the allegations and said they were based on testimony coerced and paid for by drug dealers and illegal gamblers.
Human Rights Watch said President Benigno Aquino III has largely ignored the killings.
Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said Aquino had “affirmed the government's commitment to render justice to victims of extrajudicial killings dating back to those that were perpetrated in previous administrations.”
Coloma said cases that were dismissed by prosecutors were ordered refiled by Aquino and that “interagency work to complete case buildup that will meet the standards of judicial proof will be pursued vigorously.”
Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, said there was “compelling evidence” against Uy, who reportedly called the targets — suspected drug dealers, petty criminals, street children and others — “weeds” that had to be uprooted in a “perverse form of crime control.” Death squad members who have quit were also targets, Kine said.
“The Tagum death squad's activities imposed a fear-enforced silence in Tagum City that allowed the killers and their bosses to literally get away with murder,” Kine said in a statement released by Human Rights Watch after it released its 71-page report.
The statement said Uy, his close aides and police officers had “hired, equipped and paid for an operation that at its height consisted of 14 hit men and accomplices” since his first term as mayor in 1998. His son lost the election to succeed him after he stepped down in 2013.
Aquino has “failed to condemn local anti-crime campaigns that promote or encourage the unauthorized use of force to rid city streets of 'undesirables,'” the human rights group said.
The group said that according to a former death squad member, hit men were paid 5,000 pesos ($110) for each killing. Uy personally paid the hit men on at least two occasions, Human Rights Watch said.
Uy laughed off the claim. “Everybody knows the house of the mayor, and they come soliciting help for this and that problem. It is easy to point to the mayor,” he told The Associated Press.
He suggested that the killings were “vengeance” from the victims of the criminals and rivalry between crime gangs.
“Certain individuals here coerced the so-called witnesses, gave them money to make up stories,” he said.
“They don't want me to return to power because if I come back, they will lose their businesses,” he said, adding that he plans to run again in the next election.
Human Rights Watch said the death squad also was responsible for the killing of a journalist, a judge, two police officers, a tribal leader, local politicians and businessmen. Uy apparently was unaware of these killings or was told by “handlers” of the gunmen that the victims were involved in drugs to justify the attacks, it said.
86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police
- Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009
- The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades
JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”