RHRC documents hundreds of human rights violations in Marawi

Thousands of narratives detailing hundreds of alleged human rights violations in Marawi City have been documented in the aftermath of the months-long siege by the Regional Human Rights Commission in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Philstar said in its online report today.

Abdulnasser Badrudin, Chairman of the Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said they have launched an extensive investigation to verify supposed violations of human rights of the people of Marawi.

Badrudin said they have documented stories of over 14,000 internally displaced people, many of whom have complained over the loss of their homes and livelihood because of the armed conflict.

“Most of the issues focus on the loss of homes and other personal items, including identification cards (that make it difficult for them to move),” Badrudin said in a phone interview by Philstar.

“We are also investigating cases of looting,” he said, referring to reports that some people have taken advantage of the conflict to steal from the residents.

Badrudin said they are sorting through the narratives to determine how best to address the complaints of residents.

He noted that there also complaints against the security forces, mostly on alleged illegal arrests and supposed violation of the people’s right to movement as a result of lack of identification documents, the Philstar article also said.

And while they have yet to gain access to the main battleground area, Badrudin said the situation in the city has started to normalize as residents have begun returning to areas declared as safe zones.

For its part, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) issued a statement calling on the government to address allegations of human rights violations and investigate claims against the military and other actors, said the report by Philstar.

It noted that the military has been accused of looting, unlawful or arbitrary arrests, presence in camps, profiling and military harassment.

The CHR also noted incidents of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings.

“We also urge the government to hold to account both state and non-state actors responsible for the atrocities committed against the local residents,” it said.

The CHR said it is committed to extend all possible assistance to rebuild the communities and ensure that the people’s rights to access to education, shelter, food, water and proper sanitation, among others are fulfilled by the government.

Former CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales said the government should focus on helping the people of Marawi instead of using the crisis to extend the declaration of martial law.

“The results of martial rule have taken their toll on the most basic and fundamental rights of the people of Marawi to live a free, prosperous and democratic life,” she said in a statement, as quoted by Philstar.

Also in today’s online report by Philstar, AFP chief Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero gave the assurance to allay fears that the military’s intensified campaign against terrorist groups across the country would result human rights abuse. 

Gen. Guerrero, whose stint as AFP Chief of Staff has been extended by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte said the military’s Human Rights Office will actively monitor the activities of AFP troops, and violators will be held accountable.

He gave assurance that human rights complaints would be entertained and acted upon. (Source: Philstar)