Philippines prisoner deadline set

The Philippine government has agreed a deadline for the release of political prisoners after talks with communist rebels in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

The 32 prisoners, who have links to the communist National Democratic Front, should be released before 4 May.

The talks are aimed at resolving the 34-year-old armed conflict between the two parties.

The two sides have also agreed to redouble their efforts to resolve what they call the terrorist listings issue.

Human rights

After the 11 September 2001 attacks, the United States and the European Union added the National Democratic Front, or New People's Army, to their list of terrorist organisations.

The communists have said the future of peace talks depends on the removal of that terrorist label.

At the end of the talks here, the Philippine government stopped short of calling for taking the communists off the terrorist list, but it said it would help the peace process if it were to happen.

The last round of talks agreed to a joint commission to monitor human rights.

This is now expected to start its work in the next few weeks.

Both sides said the commission was important because it would send a clear signal that human rights abuses from both sides could not continue unchecked.

The communists and the government have been in armed conflict over political and land reforms for 34 years.

Peace talks broke down in 2001 when the government suspended negotiations after a series of attacks by the rebels on politicians.

Talks facilitated by the Norwegian government resumed earlier this year and a new round of talks is scheduled for the end of this month.

By Lars Bevanger
BBC, Oslo

03/04/2004

Bron : BBC World

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