Statements of Bärbel Kofler, Jean Asselborn and Romain Schneider on the killing of Atty. Ben Ramos

Dear friends, 

We are sharing with you the statement of Barbel Kofler, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights and Policy and Humanitarian Aid, and that of Luxembourg ministers Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Romain Schneider, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, on the killing of Atty. Benjamin "Ben" Ramos. 
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Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (7 November) on the murder of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos on 6 November 2018 in Negros Occidental:

https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/kofler-on-the-murder-of-benjamin-ramose/2158730

“I utterly condemn the callous murder of Benjamin Ramos. As a human rights defender and lawyer, he worked on a voluntary basis to promote the rights of the weakest groups in Philippine society. He most recently provided legal support for the families of nine farmers who were brutally murdered in the same region on 20 October. There is absolutely no excuse for simple farmers and the people who stand up for their rights having to fear for their lives. No stone must be left unturned in the efforts to investigate these heinous murders and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Background Information:

The human rights defender Benjamin Ramos Jr was shot in the Philippine province of Negros Occidental on 6 November. He was Secretary-General of the branch of the National Union of People’s Lawyers in Negros Occidental and worked as a volunteer to promote the rights of marginalised groups in the Philippines. Just a few weeks before his murder, nine farmers including three women and two adolescents were murdered on a sugar-cane plantation in the same region. Their attackers have not yet been identified. Ramos provided the families of the deceased with legal support after the murder. 

Conflicts over land rights have huge potential for violence in the Philippines, stretching even to murder. On the island of Negros alone, figures provided by the Federation of Agricultural Workers indicate that 45 farmers have been killed since President Duterte took office.

14.11.18 - Luxembourg Ministers Jean Asselborn and Romain Schneider strongly condemn the assassination of human rights defender Ben Ramos

https://astm.lu/luxembourg-ministers-jean-asselborn-and-romain-schneider-strongly-condemn-the-assassination-of-human-rights-defender-ben-ramos/

Declaration of Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, and Romain Schneider, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, on the assassination of human rights defender Ben Ramos: “We strongly condemn the killing of human rights defender Benjamin Ramos, executive director of the Peace and Development Group, by unidentified persons on November 6 2018 on the island of Negros in the Philippines.

Mr. Ramos was a lawyer and the secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Negros Occidental Province and in this context provided legal assistance to the families of nine agricultural workers who were murdered in the same area on 20 October 2018. We express our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Mr. Ramos and of the nine other victims.

We are gravely concerned by the repressive and violent climate in which human rights defenders are working in the Philippines: it is unacceptable that these women and men, who have dedicated their lives to the defense of the rights of others, should themselves be the victims of criminalization, intimidation, violence, and even murder and extrajudicial killings. It is equally unacceptable that peasants and other people working in the rural areas should be victims of the same forms of violence whilst exercising their legitimate rights, in particular their land rights.

In endorsing the statement made by the European Union through its Delegation in Manila, we call on the Philippine authorities to launch an independent and thorough investigation into the assassination of Benjamin Ramos and the murder of the nine farmworkers killed on 20 October 2018. The perpetrators and sponsors of these acts must be brought to justice in order to put an end to the situation of impunity prevailing in the Philippines.

We also urge the Government of the Philippines to resume cooperation with international human rights partners, in particular the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures mandate holders, and to guarantee the safety of all human rights defenders.”