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. »

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