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Home Community Civil Rights Fil-Am Lawyer Clarifies Error in U.S. State Department Report
Fil-Am Lawyer Clarifies Error in U.S. State Department Report PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - Civil Rights
Thursday, 25 March 2010 08:30

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

 

Filpino-American Lawyer Clarifies Error in U.S. State Department Report

 

C HICAGO (JGLi) – A Filipino-American lawyer has asked United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to correct the entry in the State Department 2009 Philippine Human-Rights Report that the “foreign citizen of Filipino descent” who was among the three who were “abducted and tortured by members of the military in Tarlac” last year is actually a U.S. citizen.

 

In a letter, Arnedo S. Valera told Secretary Clinton that the “foreign citizen of Filipino descent” mentioned in the report is “Ms. Melissa C. Roxas, my client under the Legal-Services Program of the Migrant Heritage Commission, a non-profit service organization based in Washington, D.C."

 

Mr. Valera called attention to the title “Respect for Human Rights, Section 1, Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From Disappearance (item b) paragraph 2 that reads as follows: “A foreign citizen of Filipino descent claimed that she and two others were abducted and tortured by members of the military in Tarlac. An investigation was ongoing (see section 1.c.).”

 

Atty. Valera said, “The ‘foreign citizen’ to whom this portion in the Human Rights Report apparently refers to (is) my client, Melissa Roxas, a United States citizen and a resident of California, on whose behalf we filed a complaint and was acknowledged by the Department of State on Dec. 7, 2009 and the Department of Justice on Jan. 19, 2010.”

 

In a letter to Mrs. Clinton dated March 17, 2010, Mr. Atty. Valera also attached Ms. Roxas’ “U.S. passport to further prove her citizenship.

“For factual accuracy as well as the importance of acknowledging that it was a citizen of this country alleging the reported mistreatment, kindly rectify the error by specifying her citizenship.”

 

Atty. Valera also informed Secretary Clinton that she also submitted Ms. Roxas’ complaint to Special Rapporteur on Torture Professor Manfred Nowak of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Mr. Valera said Ms. Roxas is the first known American citizen under President Obama’s presidency to have become a victim of abduction and torture by military agents in the Philippines.

 

Records of the human-rights watchdog Karapatan reveal there have been more than 1,1016 victims of politically-motivated torture under the Arroyo government since 2001. More than a thousand other activists were victims of extra-judicial killings.


Ms. Roxas, 31, claimed that she was abducted in Kapanikan,
La Paz, Tarlac, sometime on May 19, 2009 and she was brought to a military camp in Nueva Ecija, known as Fort Magsaysay, where she was tortured until May 25, 2009. Fort Magsaysay is the largest military camp in the Philippines and is home to the Army’s 7th Infantry Division.

 

The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are submitted annually by the U.S. Department of State to the U.S. Congress in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.

 

Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states, "No one shall be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".  The right against Torture is a non-derogable right and in the same way, Article 2 states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.

 

The Philippines always boasts of being a signatory to all major human-rights declarations and treaties, it is now time to stop lip service and comply with these international UN instruments”, according to Atty. Valera, Co-Executive Director of the Migrant Heritage Commission based in Fairfax, VA.

 

Records of the human-rights watchdog Karapatan reveal there have been more than 1,1016 victims of politically-motivated torture under the Arroyo government since 2001. More than a thousand other activists were victims of extra-judicial killings. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net) # # #

 

 © opyright 2009 The Journal Group Link International. The contents provided in the JGLi may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the Journal Group Link International.

 

(Editor’s Note: Watch out for the upcoming outlet-oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)

 

 



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Last Updated on Sunday, 04 July 2010 19:34
 

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