9 MARCH 2020
Cristina E. Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General and Co-Head of Ecuvoice Delegation to the 43rd UNHRC Session, +63 917 316 2831, (Signal, FB, WA or Viber)
Edre U. Olalia, NUPL National President and Head of Ecuvoice Delegation to the 43rd UNHRC Session, +639175113373, (Signal, FB, WA or Viber)
Eight UN experts express concern on “redtagging” by PH gov’t officials
“We express additional concern at the statements made by high-level officials threatening human rights organisations and accusing them of having ties with the communist movement. Such statements reflect a worrying broader trend in the Philippines of so-called “red-tagging” of, for example, human rights defenders, journalists, rural communities and legitimate organizations, perceived as threats or enemies of the State, as having links to communists groups,” thus stated eight UN special rapporteurs in a communication to the Philippine government published in time for the 43rd UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
The UN independent experts who sent the communication are:
1. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst
2. Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Leigh Toomey
3. Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Luciano Hazan
4. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard
5. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye
6. Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Clement Nyaletsossi Voule
7. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
8. Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls Meskerem Techane
“We further fear that such statements, combined with the actions by the State mentioned above, may have a chilling effect on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the country. We wish to reiterate that when high-level officials engage in speeches which disparages the work of human rights defenders, they undermine the value of their vital work, denigrate them in the eyes of the public and may put them at risk of threats, violence or other forms of harassment,” the special rapporteurs said.
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, also co-head of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (EcuVoice) delegation of Filipino rights defenders presently attending the 43rd UNHRC session in Geneva commented that “such observations ring true during the UNHRC session where Philippine Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and other government officials have gone on a rampage to publicly villify Filipino human rights defenders engaging in the UN.”
“Philippine government officials have obviously disregarded the views of the eight special rapporteurs. They should be reminded that such acts are in violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Human Rights Defenders,” Palabay added.
Karapatan also presented outgoing UN SR on human rights defenders Michel Forst with a plaque of appreciation, thanking him for his support for the defense of Filipino human rights defenders.
“We thank Mr. Forst for his work in the protection and promotion of the rights of Filipino human rights defenders. It is lamentable that even with numerous repeated requests by his mandate to conduct an official visit and investigation, he is unable to considering the closing civic spaces in the country. We hope that his mandate will be renewed and that his successor will continue the staunch defense of the rights of human rights defenders,” Palabay concluded.#
*Attached is a copy of the communication sent by the eight Special Rapporteurs to the Philippine government.
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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.