UN rights body asks PH gov't for 'independent, transparent' probe on activist killings

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The United Nations' human rights body said it has raised concerns to the Philippine government over the recent killing of two activists - peace consultant Randall "Randy" Echanis and rights defender Zara Alvarez - calling for transparent investigations. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 22) — The United Nations' human rights body said it has raised concerns with the Philippine government over the recent killing of two activists - peace consultant Randall "Randy" Echanis and rights defender Zara Alvarez - calling for transparent investigations.

"The UN Human Rights Office stresses the need for independent, thorough and transparent investigations into the killings and for those responsible to be held to account," said Liz Throssell, spokesperson for UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in a statement.

The body acknowledged the administration's statement denouncing violence against activists. But it called for measures to protect human rights defenders, adding that it also reached out to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

It also said that the situation was alarming since the two victims were previously tagged as terrorists because of their work.

"We have raised our concerns with the Government and the Commission on Human Rights on these cases, and look forward to continuing to engage with them," the statement said.

Echanis was killed in his home last week with his autopsy recently revealing signs of torture. Just a few days later, Alvarez was gunned down in a private village in Bacolod city.

In a statement on Saturday, Malacañang denied claims that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to withhold from the CHR any information on these attacks.

“The administration is equally interested to unmask those behind these brazen killings, which are being blamed to state agents, and we will leave no stone unturned to put these people behind bars,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

CHR previously lamented denial of access to police case files on alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the government's war on dugs.