Karapatan: UNHRC’s passage of Iceland reso on PH is a concrete, welcome step towards justice and accountability

Press Release

July 11, 2019

On July 11, 2019, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted to pass the resolution tabled by Iceland, which asked member-states to take concrete steps on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines during the council’s 41st session.

“Karapatan welcomes the UNHRC’s decision to pass this long overdue resolution. This comes at a most pressing and opportune time as the Duterte government is set to report on its “achievements” after 3 years in office. This is a significant step towards accountability and we applaud the UNHRC’s decision to not remain complicit amid the rights violations being perpetrated in the Philippines. This is not the end-all, be-all of our efforts to exact accountability, but we take it as a critical start. This is a decision on the side of justice,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

The Iceland resolution expressed concern on reported cases of extrajudicial killings in line with the drug war, but also raised the issue of reported violations targeting critics and human rights defenders. The said 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.

“This is a significant and relevant move by Iceland, which was supported by 28 states.  An independent investigation into reported human rights violations in line with the government’s anti-narcotics campaign and its counterinsurgency program is long overdue. This resolution will initiate the start of a close monitoring on the rights situation in the country. Other efforts domestically, regionally and internationally will likewise move forward, the aggregate of which will expectedly bring out the changes in policy and in leadership that prioritizes human and people’s rights,” Palabay explained.

The Karapatan official also struck down the likely spins that the government and its spokespersons will resort to: “We reiterate that this is not an issue of sovereignty, but of accountability. The Philippines is signatory to binding human rights treaties that allow for such mechanisms of investigation and accountability. Duty-bearers who act contrary to their mandate of upholding human rights should expect to be made accountable. In the end, it comes down to exacting justice. This is not a numbers game, as what this callous government tries to reason out. This systematic and state-perpetrated butchering of the Filipino people has reached international concern, and the clamor for change will only echo louder from here on.”

“Despite the government’s efforts to discredit and malign victims, their relatives, and human rights organizations, many countries have already expressed alarm on our situation. We will continuously challenge the government to own up to its flagship policies, and face the consequences of peddling militarism at the expense of people’s rights,” Palabay concluded. 

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, +639189790580

 

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