30 June 2020
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, +639173162831 (via WhatsApp, Viber)
Rights groups calls on UN HRC to deliver a strong resolution for accountability in PH
In a joint statement delivered at the interactive dialogue during the 44th UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland, international NGO Civicus and Philippine-based rights group Karapatan welcomed the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the human rights situation in the Philippines and called on the members of the HRC to “follow up with action and deliver a strong resolution which delivers the accountability measures that are so badly needed” in the country.
“CIVICUS and Karapatan welcome the strong report of the OHCHR, which highlights that the Philippines’ once-vibrant and open tradition of civil society activism is under serious threat,” they stated.
“Yesterday, the Philippines was added to CIVICUS’s Watchlist, reflecting its sharp decline in civic freedoms. President Duterte has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by passing an emergency law which is being used to curtail freedom of speech and silence the media. Journalists and social media users have already been targeted by the law,” the two organisations added.
The report shows that violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detention under Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, is pervasive. That vilification of dissent is being increasingly institutionalized and normalized in ways that will be very difficult to reverse. The new anti-terror bill will further erode the rule of law. Rampant impunity means that accountability for attacks against activists and journalists is virtually non-existent. Domestic mechanisms will not provide justice for the thousands killed at the hands of State authorities; for those unjustly imprisoned; for those silenced.
They cited reprisals on Karapatan, as “one of the many organisations threatened and smeared for their work – including for their reports to the UN.” They strongly averred that “reprisals are never acceptable but are even more egregious when perpetrated by a member of this Council.”
They also welcomed the strong statements made during the interactive dialogue, including that of member states. “No country is above scrutiny, nor should they be above accountability,” they concluded.
Karapatan is a convening organisation of the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, a network of faith-based and human rights groups engaging in the UN and other international rights mechanisms.
*Please see attached oral statement by Civicus and Karapatan.
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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.