PH Grade in HR Review: Failure
12 May 2017
Atty. Ephraim Cortez, secretary general, National Union of Peoples Lawyers, +639175465798
Jigs Clamor, deputy secretary general, Karapatan and co-head, Philippine UPR Watch delegation, +639997721233
The Philippine government received a failing grade in the recently-concluded UN Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in the Philippines held in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Despite attempts by the Philippine delegation to justify the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and to present a positive picture of its achievements on the political, economic, social and cultural rights of the people, most of the attending states still raised serious concerns on a host of human rights issues that remain unaddressed,” said Atty. Ephraim Cortez, co-head of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation to the Geneva event.
Delegates from 95 states made statements and recommendations on a host of human rights issues. Among these were government representatives from Canada and other European states who spoke against extra-judicial killings in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, as well as in politically motivated cases. The Netherlands, Germany, Luxemberg and Slovakia called for the implementation of a policy against the use of torture and safeguards against enforced disappearances, and arrests of perpetrators of rights abuses. States such as Estonia, Latvia and Hungary called for investigations of threats and attacks against journalists and human rights defenders.
“Philippine UPR Watch welcomes these recommendations coming from the members States. However, it is gravely concerned that these recommendations still came up during the third cycle, despite having been noted in the previous two cycles of the UPR in 2008 and 2012. This is evidence not only of the lack of serious effort on the part of the Philippine Government to address these observations, but also of the ineffectiveness of its Philippine Human Rights Plan which did not at all help in curbing these violations,” Cortez added.
In a forum held immediately after the Review, the Philippine UPR Watch and other organizations called the Duterte government to task for the continued climate of impunity despite previous recommendations for it to investigate cases of human rights violations and to prosecute the perpetrators.
Cortez added that the human rights watchdog also plans to submit its report and recommendations on the human rights situation in the country to broth panels in the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations “as part of a process of taking the government to task to fulfill their obligation to heed the voice of human rights advocates from the country and abroad.
On 11 May 2017, the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review submitted the summary of recommendations for the 3rd cycle of the UPR on the Philippines. A perusal of the recommendations reveals that not much has changed in the human rights situation in the Philippines. The observations and recommendations are essentially the same as those contained in the recommendations made during the 1stand 2nd cycles of the UPR on the Philippines.
The recommendations relating to women’s right, children’s right, the rights of migrant workers and of the indigenous peoples glaringly show that not much is being done by the Philippine Government to protect the rights of these vulnerable sectors, nor was there any improvement at all to ensure the protection of the peoples’ social-economic and cultural rights. ###
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