Dear friends,

Greetings of peace!

Sharing with you the letter and the account of the incident sent by Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Caraga coordinator Dr. Natividad Castro and Ms. Michelle Campos, daughter slain Lumad leader Dionel Campos, to the UN HRC President regarding the unfortunate incidents last March 2-3, 2016, for the interest of clarity and as an expression of concern on what we deem may set a dangerous precedent on the constriction of space for NGO engagement at the UNHRC and the harsh treatment and humiliation they experienced during the said sessions.

Best regards,

Karapatan Public Information Department

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Karapatan Alliance <>
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 1:11 PM
Subject: Letter to H.E. Choi Kyong-lim, UNHRC President

March 20, 2016

H.E. Choi Kyong-lim
President of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Tenth Cycle (2015-2016)
UNOG-Palais des Nations
Geneva, Switzerland

Dear H.E. Choi Kyong-lim:

Greetings of peace from the Philippines.

We are Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of KARAPATAN, a national human rights organization in the Philippines; Dr. Maria Natividad Castro, a coordinator of a Karapatan regional chapter in Mindanao, and Ms. Michelle Campos (whom we invited here at the UN to be with us), daughter of slain Filipino indigenous people’s leader Dionel Campos in the Philippines. The three of us comprise KARAPATAN’s delegation to specific activities during the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. We were accredited by the UN NGO Liaison Service through the support of NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status – CIVICUS:World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Developoment (APWLD) and Brot Fuer die Weld (Bread for the World) respectively. KARAPATAN is a member of Civicus, while KARAPATAN member organisation Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women) is also a member of APWLD. Brot Fuer die Weld has worked with Karapatan on various human rights issues in the Philippines.

KARAPATAN is an alliance of Philippine-based human rights organizations, desks, institutions and individual human rights advocates that monitors and documents human rights violations in the country[i]. We co-convene several platforms for engagements with the United Nations Human Rights Council, including its mandate holders and treaty bodies, to monitor and report on the compliance of the Philippine government to international human rights instruments.

Among the major human rights issues that KARAPATAN brought to the UN HRC was the continuing extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders and activists particularly the brutal massacre of indigenous leaders Dionel Campos, Datu Juvello Sinzo and educator Emerito Samarca on September 1, 2015 and the subsequent massive forcible evacuation of Manobo communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, Southern Philippines and other indigenous peoples communities in the country. We also had meetings with Permanent Missions to the UN and international NGOs to apprise them of the human rights situation in the Philippines.

We wrote this letter to express our concern on the arbitrary action of UN security personnel who disallowed entry of our photo documentation of human rights abuses and their disrespectful treatment of our delegation on March 2 and 3, 2016. Attached is our account of the incident.

As expressed in our meeting with Ms. Lidiya Grigoreva, NGO Liaison Officer of the Political Affairs and Partnerships Section of the UNOG, Ms. Maria Vivar Aguirre of the Civil Society Section of the OHCHR and Lt. Maurizio Enna of the Safety and Security Service of the UNOG, we raised questions on the seemingly vast discretionary powers of UN security personnel in determining which photo documentation are considered “abusive,” “offensive,” and “shocking to sensibilities of civilizations and States” disallowed in the UN premises. Exercise of such discretionary powers have resulted to the withholding/confiscation of the photo documentation we had for one day, during the UN HRC sessions, and the harsh treatment we experienced during the two days of our participation in the sessions and the humiliation we underwent

We emphasize the importance of such photo documentation in our meaningful engagement with the UN Human Rights Council. It is important in our articulation of the human rights situation in our country and in providing alternative reports in the course of our monitoring on the compliance of the Philippine government to international human rights instruments. We, human rights workers and relatives of victims of human rights abuses, consider this infringement on the fundamental right of free expression, during the UNHRC sessions, a paradoxical issue. We express concern that this incident may set a dangerous precedent for the further constriction of space for NGOs to engage with the UN HRC.

We hope that this will merit your kind attention.

Sincerely yours,

Secretary General


Daughter of Dionel Campos, Manobo Tribal Leader


Ms. Lidiya Grigoreva, NGO Liaison Officer, Political Affairs and Partnerships Section, Office of the Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva, Palais des Nations

Ms. Renate Bloem, Permanent Representative to the UN, and Mr. Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Ms. Sieglinde Weinbrenner, Policy Advisor, Human Rights and Peace Desk, Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service

Ms. Tessa Khan, Programme Officer, and Ms. Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

Ms. Inmaculada Barcia, Association of Women in Development (AWID)

Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

Mr. Enrico T. Fos, Minister, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations and other International Organisations, Geneva, Switzerland

Ms. Micol Savia, Representative to the United Nations, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Geneva, Switzerland

[i] Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Philippines,

Cristina “Tinay” Ellazar Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General and Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women) – Philippines Convenor

Official organization emails:,

Mobile number: +63917-3162831


Twitter: @TinayPalabay

Skype: tinay.palabay

Websites of organizations:


Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web

2 of 2 File(s)

Letter to the President of the UNHRC.pdf

Account of the Incident.pdf