UN expert: PH ignoring human rights recommendations by other governments

A United Nations (UN) expert criticized the Philippine government on its failure to abide by recommendations made by other countries on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

In a forum at the UN in Geneva last Thursday, November 10, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor said she finds it “quite unsettling” that the Philippine government has ignored the 11 recommendations made when the country was last reviewed in May 2017.

“When I compare them to the 24 communications that were sent by the mandate to the government over the same period (2017-2022), I can see little has been done to take the recommendations on board,” Lawlor said.

Lawlor said the recommendations urged the government of the Philippines to carry out impartial investigations into the killings of human rights defenders, to establish better strategies to protect them, and to promote a safe and enabling environment for their work.

“None of the 11 human rights defenders recommendations were accepted by the government and I have been very disheartened and upset when I write to the government time and time again about human rights defenders in the Philippines who are killed, kidnapped, attacked, surveilled and detained, red-tagged and accused of being terrorists,” the UN expert lamented.

Lawlor spoke in a side event leading to the fourth review of the human rights situation in the Philippines on Monday, November 14. It was organized by the Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch, a network of church and human rights organizations in the Philippines.

Lawlor said that her office is willing to work more closely with the Ferdinand Marcos government to ensure that human rights defenders are protected in the Philippines, urging the new administration to adopt the human rights defenders bill that has been passed by the House of Representative and is being deliberated at the Senate.

“I hope to see the government of the PH rise to the challenges of tackling the recommendations from the other states. The first step it can do is to adopt the framework to effectively integrate UPR recommendations into national goals, policies, laws and practices,” Lawlor said.

Other panelists in the forum included speakers from Karapatan, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), People’s Alternative Media Network, iDEFEND and Ron de Vera, son of political detainee and women’s rights advocate Adora Faye de Vera.

After the forum, de Vera submitted a formal complaint to Lawlor’s office on Adora Faye’s arrest and detention, detailing deprivations suffered by inmates in Philippine prisons.

NUPL secretary general Josalee Deinla also submitted a complaint on the continuing detention of their client and political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino and two others despite a court’s declaration that the search warrants used in their arrest are defective.

Nasino made international headlines in 2020 when prison authorities made it difficult for her to attend the wake and burial of her infant she gave birth to in detention.

The authorities ran away with the infant’s remains from the funeral parlor to the North Cemetery, leaving behind family members and supporters attending the burial.

The human rights situation in the Philippines will again be under review for the fourth time by the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, November 14.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla is reportedly on his way to Geneva as head of the delegation of the Philippine government. #

*Link to video message of Mary Lawlor: https://fb.watch/gJYnRQvNzT/
**Copies of the complaints/submissions are available upon request.