Justice for Philippine Female Survivors of Enslavement during World War II

On 23 August the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), together with the Philippine Center for International Law (CenterLaw), submitted a petition to the Philippine Supreme Court. ECCHR is acting in support of legal proceedings initiated on behalf of Philippine survivors of sexual violence during the Second World War.
Since 2004 CenterLaw has represented 70 members of the Malaya Lolas organization (Malaya Lolas). All of them survived a siege of Mapanizque on 23 November 1944, when Japanese troops attacked the inhabitants of Barangay Mapanzique, Candaba, in the Philippines. The inhabitants of the village were beaten and murdered. The female inhabitants were transported to the Japanese military headquarters at Bahayna Pula, where they were subjected to beating, abuse and rape by Japanese soldiers. The Malaya Lolas are calling on the Philippine government to support them in their claims for compensation from Japan, which had ordered the establishment of “comfort stations” on the Philippines.
The Philippine Supreme Court turned down this appeal on 28 April 2010, once again denying the survivors the possibility of receiving formal compensation. In the context of a new hearing on the matter, ECCHR’s petition aims to emphasize the Philippine government’s obligations. It stresses that at the time of the Second World War, the systematic wartime enslavement of women constituted a violation of international law and that the survivors have a right to individual compensation.
In particular, the petition shall remind the Government that the prohibition of slavery is recognized as ius cogens in international and national legal instruments and by numerous scholars and courts. Therefore, ECCHR’s petition relies on international treaty and customary law provisions to demonstrate that the prohibition of sexual slavery had peremptory character prior to the establishment of sexual slavery facilities by Japan between 1932 and 1945.
The Government of the Philippines has a duty to examine the claims for compensation that have been brought by the survivors.
For more information see ECCHR

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