ANDREW L. STERN
MARY KAY HENRY
Mass. Ave NW
|March 2, 2010
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Political Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Assistant Secreatary Campbell,
On behalf of the 2.2 million members of the Service Employees International Union, I write to express concern regarding reports of the illegal detention and degrading treatment of 43 health care workers in the Philippines.
Sources including the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) have reported that these 43 people were carrying out a community health training on February 6, 2010 in Morong Rizal. AHRC reports that the police searched the training site without valid search warrant and without witnesses, in violation of national law. Then, the 43 trainers and participants were charged with Illegal Possession of Explosives based on evidence allegedly obtained during the search. They were transported in military vehicles to a military base and questioned there, again in violation of Filipino law which requires that public prosecutors only conduct interviews at police stations. Some of the detained individuals allege that they were blindfolded and handcuffed for extended periods of time, deprived of sleep, and subjected to other physical abuse.
At last report, the health care workers continue to be detained in camp Capinpin, Morong, Rizal. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, an official government entity, has visited the "Morong 43," as they have become known, and expressed concern regarding this case.
I encourage the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines to communicate the United States' interest in ensuring that the rights of due process for the Morong 43 and all Filipinos are protected. The Morong 43 should be released unless the police obtain valid, legally obtained evidence that merits their being arrested in accordance with Filipino law.
In addition, I encourage the State Department to consider violations of due process and repression of community and political organizations in its assessment of the Philippines' government's compliance with human rights in the upcoming years as required by Congress. We applaud the State Department's judicious decision to withhold some military assistance to the Philippines in recent years for reasons such as these.
Andrew L. Stern
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Michael H. Posner
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
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