Human Rights Watch Philippines @hrw_ph: On disbandment of Cafgus, paramilitary forces

Regarding the statement made in today’s papers by Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the commanding general of the Philippine Army, on the disbandment of the paramilitary forces Cafgu and SCAA, I would like to make the following comment:

“Disbanding the paramilitary forces [Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) and Special Citizens Active Auxiliaries (SCAA)] is a welcome move but the armed forces need not wait for 2016 to do this. It should dismantle them now,” said Carlos Conde, Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. The Cafgus and the SCAA have a long history of human-rights abuses with impunity. The government should hold accountable paramilitary members implicated in abuses immediately.”

“The Philippine government should heed recommendations by several countries during this week’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council to dismantle its paramilitary forces. The US, during the session in Geneva, urged the Philippines to “take new additional measures to ensure that the military exercises full control over Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units and the police over Civilian Volunteer Organizations, holding these units accountable for the Philippines’ obligations under international human rights law.”

“It’s not realistic to disband paramilitaries only once the communist New People’s Army abandon their armed struggle as Bautista claims. The government has a duty to protect human rights and punish state forces who violate these rights. This obligation is not contingent on the behavior of insurgent groups.”

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