[JURIST] The government of the Philippines [JURIST news archive] has used an immigration blacklist [PDF list; HRW press release], consisting of 504 people allegedly linked to al Qaeda or the Taliban, to ban its critics from entering the country, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Friday. The Philippines government confirmed the blacklist, but said it was created to prevent disturbances during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] between July 25 and August 10, rather than to block people linked to terror organizations. The list includes rights activists and church groups, as well as former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark [JURIST news archive], who was actively involved in the defense of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive].
HRW urged the Philippines not to prevent peaceful critics from entering the country at any time. Critics say the government has used the list to divert attention from accusations that President Gloria Arroyo [official website; BBC profile] has been involved in violence against her political opponents. Reuters has more.