In this submission, prepared for the UN Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines taking place in May-June 2012, Amnesty International comments on the government’s implementation of recommendations supported by the Philippines during its previous UPR in 2008, including recommendations concerning women’s rights, torture, extra-judicial executions, and enforced disappearances.
Improvements in the human rights situation on the ground have been slow as the Philippines has struggled to implement both its existing and recently enacted laws related to the protection of human rights. Hundreds of cases of extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances from the last decade remain unresolved, and unlawful killings and enforced disappearances continue to be reported. Despite the introduction of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, state security forces have continued to practice or be complicit in torture. The government’s continued failure to disarm and disband private armed groups places civilians at risk. Access to reproductive health information and services is restricted. Abortion is criminalized, including where pregnancy puts a woman’s life at risk.
FOLLOW UP TO THE PREVIOUS REVIEW
In its first UPR in 2008, the Philippines accepted a number of recommendations made by other States, including on issues pertaining to women’s rights,1 human rights training,2 torture,3 extrajudicial executions,4 and enforced disappearances. The Philippines also announced a number of voluntary commitments around issues such as violence against women and children, and killings of activists and media professionals.5
Since then, the Philippines has taken positive steps in enacting specific laws for the protection of human rights, particularly as regards women’s rights. The government has made good progress with the August 2009 enactment of the Magna Carta of Women, which provides legal protection
from all forms of violence and from discrimination in employment, education and training.6
However, while the Magna Carta of Women is a step forward in promoting women’s rights, its effective implementation is yet to be seen.
Other recommendations do not appear to have been fully implemented, in particular with respect to torture, extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances. However, some positive developments have taken place, including the introduction of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 which identifies torture and other ill-treatment as criminal acts punishable in the most severe cases by life imprisonment and also provides for the right to a prompt and impartial investigation. In July 2010, the military leadership ordered all units to appoint a designated human rights officer, tasked with investigating allegations of human rights abuses, and with assisting victims in filing cases against alleged perpetrators. In August 2010, the military published a human rights handbook with funding from the European Union, announcing at the same time that it would provide human rights training to soldiers. In December 2010 the military announced a “paradigm shift” in its counter-insurgency policy, arguing that it was replacing previous strategies which had led to human rights violations, with a new strategy, the Internal Peace and Security Plan, which accords primacy to human rights.7
However, Amnesty International is concerned that state forces continue to be implicated in serious human rights violations such as torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances. Impunity for such violations persists. Unlawful killings and abduction by non-state actors also continue. Moreover, the Philippines has failed to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, despite having accepted a recommendation to do so.8
Read full report @ AI_2_Philippines104 UPR 13th session