MARCH 12, 2020
Cristina E. Palabay
Co-Head of Ecuvoice Delegation to the 43rd UNHRC Session
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ICELAND EXPRESSES CONCERN ANEW ON KILLINGS OF PH RIGHTS DEFENDERS, JOURNALISTS, LAWYERS
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst with the EcuVoice delegation
GENEVA, Switzerland – In the General Debate for Item 4 of the 43rd UN Human Rights Council session on March 10, 2020, Iceland Ambassador Mr. Harald Aspelund expressed his government’s continuing concern on the human rights situation in the Philippines.
“We remain concerned on the situation of human rights in the Philippines, and what looks like an expansion of the so-called war on drugs to killings of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and others. We encourage the Philippines to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the special mandate holders of this Council,” Aspelund said.
[See link here: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/human-rights-council/watch/item4-general-debate-contd-27th-meeting-43rd-regular-session-human-rights-council/6140216917001#player]
In July 2019, Iceland led the adoption of the UN HRC resolution on the human rights situation in the Philippines, mandating High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to draw up a comprehensive report on the rights situation in the country.
The Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice), a network of faith-based and human rights organizations, provided at least sixteen (16) submissions to the Office of the High Commissioner, which includes documentation on killings of rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.
“We welcome the statement of the government of Iceland, amid the brazen, duplicitous and malicious lies of the Philippine government at the UN HRC. We recommend that independent investigations on the situation in the Philippines, whether in the form of independent fact-finding missions or a Commission on Inquiry, are conducted after the High Commissioner’s report to address extrajudicial killings in relation to the drug war and counterinsurgency campaign and other rights violations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, Co-Head of the EcuVoice delegation at the 43rd session.
Human rights journalist Raymund Villanueva of Altermidya also welcomed Iceland’s statement. “It is important that governments who see through the lies of the Duterte administration continue their support for the relentless attacks on freedom of expression, of association and other civil liberties,” he said.
Palabay, Villanueva and other delegation members of the EcuVoice also met with outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Michel Forst on March 11. Villanueva discussed with Forst government attempts to revoke the franchise of ABS-CBN, the arrests and detention of journalists Frenchiemae Cumpio and Margarita Valle and the cyber-attacks against alternative media platforms.
“Journalists who report on human rights situations are human rights defenders as well. We thank Mr. Forst for his staunch defense of a free press and we are keen on working with his successor, amid the persistent attacks on press freedom in the Philippines,” he stated.
EcuVoice will again participate in the 44th UN HRC session in June 2020, when Bachelet is set to deliver her report before the Council. ###
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. It was established in 1995.