UNSR Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

UN human rights experts call for independent probe into Philippines violations Imprimir

acnudhGENEVA (7 June 2019) – UN human rights experts* today called on the United Nations to establish an independent investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines, citing a sharp deterioration in the situation of human rights across the country, including sustained attacks on people and institutions defending human rights.

"Given the scale and seriousness of the reported human rights violations we call on the Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigation into the human rights violations in the Philippines," said the independent experts, referring to the body made up of 47 UN Member States elected by the UN General Assembly.

"We have recorded a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders. Very few independent and effective investigations have taken place, independent media and journalists are threatened, the law has been weaponised to undermine press freedom, and the independence of the judiciary is undermined," the experts said.

"We are extremely concerned over the high number of killings which are being carried out across the country in an apparent climate of official, institutional impunity.

"In the past three years, we have repeatedly brought to the attention of the Government cases alleging a range of gross human rights violations, such as extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, including of children, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, trade union and land right activists. Those cases also included allegations of arbitrary detention, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, gender-based violence against women human rights defenders, attacks against the independence of judges and lawyers, freedoms of expression and of assembly, as well as people's right to food and health. Sadly these cases are just the tip of the iceberg with many more cases being reported regularly.

"It is time for the Human Rights Council to take action against these sustained attacks on human rights defenders and independent watchdog institutions," the experts said.

They stressed that, in many incidents the alleged perpetrators of killings are members of the armed forces, paramilitary groups or individuals linked to them.

"Instead of sending a strong message that these killings and harassment are unacceptable, there is a rising rhetoric against independent voices in the country and ongoing intimidation and attacks against voices who are critical of the Government, including independent media, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists," said the experts.

The President has himself publicly intimidated human rights defenders, United Nations Special Rapporteurs and even the Supreme Court judges. He has publicly degraded women through sexist statements and has incited violence against alleged drugs pushers and others. He has also threatened to bomb the schools of the Lumad indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao.

"The Government has shown no indication that they will step up to fulfil their obligation to conduct prompt and full investigations into these cases, and to hold perpetrators accountable in order to do justice for victims and to prevent reoccurrence of violations. There are now thousands of grieving families in the Philippines. We call on the international community to do everything possible to ensure there will be no more."

The experts also expressed serious concerns about the decision of the Philippines to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. "This is the last of many actions demonstrating that the Government is seeking to evade scrutiny and reject accountability," they said, noting repeated personalised attacks on independent international actors and undermining their credibility.

Independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council have raised their concerns with the Government of the Philippines on 33 occasions over the last three years**.

ENDS

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** The UN experts have issued news releases on selected 'communications' as follows:

  • On 6 December 2018, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression called on the Philippine authorities to drop charges against online news website Rappler and its Chief Executive, Maria Ressa;
  • On 20 August 2018, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health ;and Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures urged the Philippines authorities to further action to remove names on Government's "terror list";
  • On 1 June 2018, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers expressed grave concerns at public threats issued against the Philippines' Chief Justice by the country's President and his subsequent dismissal;
  • On 8 March 2018, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; and the Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures expressed grave concerns about terrorism accusations levelled against the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Philippine national;
  • On 25 January 2018, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. expressed serious alarm at effort to shut down independent media outlet in the Philippines;
  • On 27 December 2017, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples warned over "massive" impact of military operations on Mindanao indigenous peoples;
  • On 23 November 2017, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers urged the Philippines to stop attacks and killings in anti-drugs campaign;
  • On 31 July 2017, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children called on the Government of the Philippines to reverse spiralling rights violations, related to the growing reports of human rights violations including murder, threats against indigenous peoples and the summary execution of children;
  • On 16 March 2017, the Special Rapporteur on summary or arbitrary executions; and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment urged Filipino legislators to reject death penalty bill;
  • On 16 December 2016, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called on the Government of the Philippines to lift a series of preconditions imposed on her planned visit to the country;
  • On 18 August 2016, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health urged the Philippines to stop unlawful killings of people suspected of drug-related offences;
  • On 6 June 2016, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression urged Philippines president-elect to stop instigating deadly violence.

*The experts: Ms Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms Meskerem Geset Techane, Chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Ms Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rapporteur, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. Dainius Pῡras, Special Rapporteur on the right to health; Ms Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; Ms Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Philippines

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva: Alessandro Marra (+41 22 928 93 21 / amarra@ohchr.org) or write to eje@ohchr.org

You can access this press release online

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

 

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

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