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Philippines vows cooperation with UN rights expert probing political murders

[JURIST] The Philippines government has pledged to cooperate fully with the UN rights official who arrived in the country Monday to investigate the surge of political murders. In a statement on behalf of Philippines President Gloria Arroyo [official website; BBC profile], Secretary Ignacio Bunye stated that the Philippines welcomes [press release] the UN team "in the spirit of truth and justice that President Arroyo has always stood for. We support justice in all aspects and the government shall extend to the UN team all the assistance it needs to conduct a fruitful and fair search of the truth." The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] sent UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions [official website] Philip Alston [NYU Law profile] to investigate claims [JURIST report] by human rights organizations that more than 800 political activists, human-rights workers, trade union officials, lawyers and judges have been murdered throughout the country since President Arroyo came to power in 2001. Alston will report his conclusions to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile; JURIST news archive].

Arroyo appointed an independent commission [press release; JURIST report] in August 2006 to investigate "the series of extrajudicial killings of journalists [Reporters without Borders 2006 annual report] and militant activists in the country." Amnesty International [advocacy website] has called on the Philippines to investigate the killings [AI report] and resolve "a continuing failure by the authorities to act with due diligence in investigating and prosecuting such violations." AFP has more.

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