On the UN Human Rights Committee’s concluding observations on the Philippines

Karapatan welcomes the concluding observations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the Philippines, including its significant views on red-tagging, the Anti-Terrorism Act, extrajudicial killings in the government’s war on drugs, among other pressing issues on human rights in the Philippines.

The Committee’s recommendations to put an end to extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders and users, and to discontinue any attempts to reintroduce the death penalty, despite the platitudes by the Philippine government, should further bolster efforts for possible independent investigation at the UN Human Rights Council and at the International Criminal Court.

We welcome the Committee’s views and recommendations on the Anti-Terrorism Act. We remain steadfast in our call to junk the law, with the UN HR Committee citing the same provisions that fundamentally attack basic rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly.

We laud the UN HR Committee’s reaffirmation of the dangers of red-tagging against activists and human rights defenders. Despite the denials and justifications of the government, especially by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, the UN treaty body underscored that red-tagged persons in the country are subjected to death threats, intimidation, attacks, arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, and thus the practice should end.

The Committee’s view on red-tagging, along with its reiterated recommendations on the protection of human rights defenders, activists, journalists and civilians, is a strong rebuke of the Philippine government’s repeated violations against those who uphold and defend people’s rights in the country. It sends a signal that the international community remains vigilant and watchful of the actions of the current Marcos, Jr. administration, at a time when domestic mechanisms have been largely ineffective in rendering justice and the current government continues the policy of State terror and repression amidst the growing discontent of the Filipino people with the intensifying economic crisis.

As a whole, the concluding observations by the UN HR Committee support the Filipino people’s call for justice and accountability, and against all attacks on human rights and basic freedoms of the Filipino people. It is imperative for the UNHRC to consider these views in the upcoming UPR and pursue an independent investigation on the Philippines.