The AMP documents and accompanies individual cases of disappearances, political killings, criminalizations of human rights defenders and journalists, which exemplify the patterns of structural human rights violations in the Philippines.
An updated list of cases of political killings of human rights defenders and journalists are included in the AMP Human Rights Reports for the respective periods in 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2022.
Disappearances mean that state agents are inovlved in the abduction, arrest, and concealment of a victim’s whereabouts. The enforced disappearance of human rights defenders is a common tool of oppression against civil society and is frequently employed by autocratic governments such as of Ex-President Rodrigo Duterte. In some instances, the disappeared persons reappear deceased after a while.
Cases of enforced disappearances are difficult to document because relatives are often afraid to speak up out of fear of retribution from the perpetrators. Most cases remain unsolved and perpetrators are hardly brought to justice.
The Philippines has also yet to ratify the UN Convention against Enforced Disappearances, which describes the practice as a crime against humanity.
Especially since former President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, the AMP observed a significant increase in the number of killings of human rights defenders and other political opponents, compared to the previous administration under President Benigno Aquino III.
Investigations rarly take place for those cases and only a very few of the perpetrators are brought to justice, the masterminds of the murders mostly remain unknown. The climate of impunity and killings of human rights defenders were clearly fueled by the repressive policies of Ex-President Duterte, which are also continued under the current administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Criminalization are fabricated charges that use false evidence to accuse the victim of a crime they did not commit. Often fabricated charges are preceded by a campaign of abuse and intimidation – a practice often used by security forces to defame human rights defenders and hold them in custody for the duration of the trial. Especially for the charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives bail can only be granted in exceptional cases.