Karapatan calls on UN HRC member-states to support Iceland’s resolution on the rights situation in PH

On June 4, 2019, Iceland tabled a proposed resolution to the UN Human Rights Council, asking member-states to take concrete steps on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines during the council’s 41st session. The said resolution was supported by 28 states, urging for further action on the reported rights violations in the country.  
 
“We welcome the proposed resolution by Iceland and urge other UN HRC member-states to vote for its adoption. Halfway into the Duterte government, extrajudicial killings have worsened with in the regime’s repressive anti-narcotics drive and counterinsurgency campaign. While there are ongoing efforts to investigate these violations in the domestic front, the adoption of this resolution should jolt this government into remembering all the human rights obligations and treaties that it is mandated to uphold,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, who is currently monitoring the HRC sessions in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The proposed resolution expressed concern on reported cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, intimidation and persecution of or violence against members of civil society, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, journalists, lawyers, members of the political opposition, and restrictions on the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association.

Palabay underscored the importance and relevance of this resolution. She added: “The rapid deterioration of the human rights situation and increased repression in the country is a tragic reality that poor Filipino families, entire communities, and human rights defenders are confronted with. Particularly as human rights defenders, we are both witnesses and victims of this rabid government’s crimes. This long-overdue investigation on the country’s situation should not only look into cases of human rights violations, but likewise the policies from which these abuses stem from.”

The proposed resolution urged the Philippine government to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards including on due process and the rule of law; and to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, including by facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.

“It is lamentable that the Philippine government continues to reinforce the structure of impunity in the country and subverts the law to legitimize repression and violations on human rights, as it evades any attempts at exacting accountability while berating and attacking human rights defenders for exposing its crimes,” reiterated the rights group official.

Iceland’s proposed resolution also has language on the role of the UN High Commissioner to “prepare a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in the Philippines and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-fourth session, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue.”

The rights group said it is already wary of possible spins by the government and its spokespersons, following Iceland’s move. Karapatan pressed that attempts to equate support for independent investigations to support for the proliferation of illegal drugs is a “gross misrepresentation and a deliberate attempt to twist the intentions of human rights advocates and civil society.” 

“On the contrary, we are speaking out and pushing for policies that take into account the socio-economic conditions of Filipinos and considers their rights, instead of slaughtering them and coldly justifying their deaths,” Palabay stated.

She likewise added that invoking the concept of sovereignty to evade said investigations, especially in light of the West Philippine Sea issue, is “ironic”. The Karapatan offical added that “sovereignty is not an excuse to helplessly kill your own people and deny investigations into reported violations afterwards. The international community has a right, and even a duty, to do something when crimes against humanity are being relentlessly committed by institutions mandated to uphold and protect human rights. We are tired of these excuses and malicious lies peddled by State forces to divert attention, scapegoat, deny accountability, or altogether hamper investigations.”

“Karapatan supports all initiatives that seek to put an end to all policies that degrade and dehumanize communities and individuals. Militarist policies do not curb criminality, but instead aggravate human rights violations. We have seen this proven time and again under various presidencies. It is time for accountability, justice, and an overhaul of policy, perspective, and direction. We call on UN HRC member states to support the resolution,” Palabay concluded.
 

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