Philippines approves historic human rights law


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Philippines President Benigno Aquino III signed a human rights law imposing life imprisonment for state agents convicted of being involved in "enforced disappearances," RTHK reported.

The law is the first of its kind in Asia and a "major milestone," Human Rights Watch said in a press release. “President Aquino and the Congress deserve credit for acting to end the scourge of enforced disappearances in the Philippines,” said Brad Adams, the Human Rights Watch Asia director.

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More than 1,000 political activists have disappeared since the 1972-1986 Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, the Associated Press reported. More than 20 have disappeared under Aquino’s predecessor, and at least 12 have disappeared under Aquino.

The law, signed late Friday, makes the “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the state” punishable by life in prison and holds superior offices liable for military and police-led abductions, the New York Times reported.