On the recent appointments at the Commission on Human Rights

With the appointment of a new Chairperson and a commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights, Karapatan calls on the new appointees to uphold the Commission’s mandate and expectations for independence, probity, integrity, and transparency to conduct investigations on human rights violations against poor and disadvantaged sectors and provide prompt, responsive, accessible and excellent public service for the promotion and protection of human rights.

In particular, we expect members of the new commission en banc to address the recommendations by the previous commission during its public inquiry on the attacks and challenges against human rights defenders and its investigations in the drug war. Thousands of complaints of rights violations including extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, judicial harassment, threats, and dangers of red-tagging experienced by civilians, human rights defenders and communities remain, and investigations regarding these by the national human rights institution need to be conducted with utmost resolve to hold the perpetrators in government accountable, to ensure that government policies from which the violations emanate be addressed with the full view of making sure that the root causes are looked into and that there’d be non-repetition of the said violations.

The Commission is also expected to pursue an independent role and voice amid the investigations by the International Criminal Court and the scrutiny into the Philippine human rights situation in the UN Human Rights Council and through the UN Human Rights Committee and the Universal Periodic Review.

The CHR was created as a response to the atrocities committed during martial law, and we strongly remind the new appointees of the continuing immense challenges of thousands of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos Sr. dictatorial rule and their duty to uphold truth, justice and accountability, considering the Commission plays an important role in ensuring that recognition and reparations are accorded to the victims. We deem such is necessary considering the Commission’s mandate under Republic Act No. 10368 and the current environment where they are appointed into office by Marcos Sr.’s son. We also note that no open, transparent and independent process has been conducted in appointment of the incoming commission.

Nevertheless, we will continue to engage with the incoming new members of the Commission especially in pursuing justice and accountability of the previous Duterte administration and other administrations, in the continuing defense and protection of people’s rights, welfare and dignity.