Karapatan decries arbitrary blacklisting, deportation of Filipino-Swiss activist

December 8, 2023

Rights group Karapatan decries the arbitrary blacklisting and deportation of Edna Becher, a Filipino-Swiss who went to the Philippines to spend the holidays with her family and friends, only to suffer from political persecution from Philippine immigration authorities.

Reports reached Karapatan that Becher arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 early evening yesterday, December 7. She was detained by immigration authorities for two hours, as they alleged that she is on a blacklist due to involvement in anti-government activities.

As of this writing, immigration authorities have deported Becher, and is on a flight back to Switzerland.

The blacklisting and deportation of Becher is arbitrary, baseless, and a vile act of political persecution. Becher, an activist from Anakbayan-Europe and also of Swiss nationality, has done nothing wrong and illegal against anyone, whether in her country of residence and much more in the country of her family roots. These acts also violate Becher’s freedom of association and freedom of movement.

Becher participated in mass actions in Switzerland in relation to the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines and during the visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the World Economic Forum.

Many other foreign nationals, especially those who have been extending international solidarity for human and people’s rights issues in the Philippines, have suffered similar persecution. Under the Duterte administration, Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox and Australian lawyer Gil Boehringer were subjects of deportation proceedings. Currently, under the Marcos Jr. administration, many others are at risk of being in the Bureau of Immigration’s blacklist.

It is appalling that this happened days before International Human Rights Day, when the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights will be commemorated. In the Philippines, we will marching to call for an end to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and detention, fake surrenders, bombings, threats including red-tagging, and other human rights and international humanitarian law violations. We will demand accountability for the crimes committed against the Filipino people, including violations on freedom of association.

Karapatan calls on Philippine authorities to stop the policy and practice of drawing up blacklists and deportation of foreign nationals who support human rights advocacies in the Philippines. Becher and many others should be removed from these blacklists and allowed to freely exercise their basic rights to visit their families or friends, to freely associate with organizations who conduct human rights advocacies, and to support calls for justice and accountability for human rights violations in the Philippines as forms of international solidarity.