Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Malaysian air strikes illegal, violate human rights, says Roque as sultanate pleads for UN aid

The air strikes launched by Malaysia in an assault on followers of the Sulu sultanate in Sabah are illegal and should be protested by the Philippine government in a global body, an international law expert said. The sultanate appealed to the United Nations to intervene in the crisis, as militants said the Aquino administration had virtually signalled Malaysia that it "endorsed" the slaughter with its surrender-without-terms order to the Sulu men.

"The air strikes by Malaysia are contrary to human rights law, not proportional to the threat posed by the Filipinos in Sabah, and not necessary," lawyer Harry Roque, chairman of the Center for International Law and director of International Legal Studies at the University of the Philippines, wrote in his blog.

For its part, the Department of Foreign Affairs would not say if the air strikes and the ground assault by the Malaysians constituted the maximum tolerance requested by the Philippines of Malaysia through Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Reports in Malaysian media quoted officials there as saying the use of air strikes against the group led by the Sulu crown prince, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, was meant to ensure the safety of Malaysian security forces.

At least eight Malaysian policemen have been killed since clashes with the group of Kiram began Friday.

Roque suggested that the government seek the intervention of such bodies as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

"The Philippine government should file a complaint. If it will not exercise protection over these people, then who will?" he told InterAksyon in a telephone interview.

Force used not proportionate

“Under human rights law,” Roque wrote, “the use of force in police operations should be absolutely necessary and strictly proportional to the threat posed by the Filipinos in Sabah."

"Moreover, respect for the right to life of a police suspect requires that the nature and degree of force used be proportionate to the threat posed by the suspect to the safety and security of the police officers, other individuals and society as a whole,” he added.

In fact, Roque said, “Malaysian law enforcement officials should, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to force, and in particular, the resort to

“Since the use of force against the Filipinos involved in the standoff was illegal,” the Philippine government should demand that the international community ask Malaysia to cease and desist "from further breaching human rights law," Roque said.

"It should later be asked to pay compensation to the victims of its use of disproportionate use of force," he added.

DFA: Malaysians kept extending deadline

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said: “The force used by the Malaysian authorities was to counter the force used by Kiram’s group. The Malaysians have been extending the deadline” to move against the sultanate’s followers.

“On our side, we have been asking the group of Kiram to pull back and come back to their homes and families. We didn’t receive that expected cooperation from the group of Kiram. What happened is exactly what we didn’t want to happen -- which was loss of lives from both sides,” he added.

Asked if he thought the airstrikes were “excessive,” Hernandez said he could not comment on tactical operations happening on the ground.

Appeal for UN intervention

The camp of the Sulu sultan, meanwhile, appealed to the United Nations to intervene in the violence that erupted in Sabah.

Abraham Idjirani, sultanate spokesman, said an international peacekeeping force should be deployed to Lahad Datu to avoid further violence.

Idjirani issued the plea even as Malaysia assaulted the Suluanons in Lahad Datu and President Benigno Aquino again refused to talk to the sultan unless the latter orders the fighters to come home.

Idjirani also asked the UN to conduct an investigation into the incident and said the sultanate and its followers  were willing to subject themselves to interrogation and criticism if warranted. 

Militants: PNoy complicit in slaughter

Militant groups said the administration of Philippine President Bernigno Aquino III had virtually endorsed the “massacre” of Filipinos in Sabah.

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a statement, “this war freak, politically selective and gun-obsessed diplomatic policy has emboldened the Malaysian military authorities to launch a merciless attack on members of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu.”

Mr. Aquino had given, by his statements openly commanding the sultanate’s followers to surrender unconditionally to Malaysia or be wiped out, “tacit approval for Malaysia authorities to bombard the lair of Kiram III.”  The political call for Kiram to surrender is a statement” that the Aquino government is willing to gamble the lives of 200 Filipinos demanding the country's legitimate claim to Sabah," said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.

France said President Aquino and top officials of his Cabinet shall be held grossly accountable and liable for every death of Filipinos in Sabah, including those not identified with the Royal Sultanate of Sulu.

Lira Dalangin-Fernandez/Veronica Uy/Abigail Kwok | | March 5, 2013 | Article Link

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