Philippines to launch probe into indigenous killings

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Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

The killing of three people involved in promoting the rights of indigenous peoples in the Philippines is to be the subject of an investigation there, the UN Human Rights Council has heard.

The announcement by the Philippines government has been welcomed by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples.

Ahead of the development, Ms Corpuz added her voice to concerns about the "rising unlawful killings of human rights activists" by paramilitaries in the country.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The announcement by the Philippines that an investigation is under way into the recent killing of three indigenous people there follows calls from human rights defenders to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is one of three UN-appointed human rights experts who says the victims' families will be relieved:

"That's the main demands that they have, that there should be an investigation on the killings that are happening and all the perpetrators should be brought to justice. So I'm so happy that the Philippines spoke about that today."

All three victims were from the southern Mindanao region, which is currently affected by armed conflict involving paramilitary forces, according to a statement from the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

One of those killed was the director of a school for mountain communities; his body was reportedly found in a classroom immediately after members of the Philippine army and paramilitaries allegedly occupied the school.

The two other victims were believed to be tribal elders.

While welcoming the announcement of an investigation, the UN investigator – herself from the native Philippines Cordillera community – stressed that there's still concern about the "pervasive insecurity" in the south of the country.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’13″ 

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