[Press Release] EU Ambassadors meet the NGO Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

EU Ambassadors meet the NGO Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

On 28 May, Ambassadors from European Union Member States and Head of the EU Delegation in the Philippines, Mr. Guy Ledoux, met with the Philippine NGO Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) at Bantayog Memorial, Quezon City – a well-known place of commemoration for the victims of Martial Law and torture. The diplomats were welcomed by Sister Crescencia Lucero, Co-Chairperson of the TFDP Board, and by Executive Director Emmanuel Amistad. The visit was a welcome opportunity not only to receive an implementation update of a project funded by the EU with PHP 2.750.000 but to also discuss the situation of human rights in the Philippines, especially with regard to the upcoming 2nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the country, to take place on 29 May 2012 at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

During the meeting the diplomats witnessed a presentation by TFDP on their work as one of the oldest NGOs of the country, established during the height of Martial Law in 1974. This was followed by an overview of the EU funded project that aims to popularize and build awareness on human rights and in particular torture and violence against women and children.

Mr. Amistad stated: “Since its inception this project has allowed TFDP to raise awareness on torture and violence, especially against women and children, with members of society that are most vulnerable to abuses. Through this project we were able to reach women and children in the communities, teach them how to spot and document human rights abuses and how to claim their rights.”

He added: “In 2009 the Philippines adopted its Anti-Torture Law, an important instrument to penalize torture and seek redress for victims. TFDP, also through this project, was involved with other stakeholders in the drafting of Implementing Rules and Regulations on this law that should make it a more effective tool in the fight against impunity in the Philippines.”

Ambassador Ledoux welcomed the cooperation between the EU and TFDP. He noted: “The Philippines will be undergoing their second Universal Periodic Review in the UN Human Rights Council tomorrow, on May 29. This peer review exercise is of particular importance since it will constitute a follow-up to the recommendations made in 2008, when the Philippines underwent the UPR for the first time. Since then, the Philippine government has made several important efforts, including in its legislative agenda, in improving good and effective governance, and in tackling economic, social and cultural rights through increased work on reducing poverty. Indeed, significant budget increases could recently be noted in the areas of education, health and social security.”

He continued: “On the international level, the Philippine government has reaffirmed its commitment to upholding the respect of human rights, especially with last year’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and this year’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).”

Ambassador Ledoux noted: “While significant progress has been made in the area of human rights more needs to be done to effectively tackle shortcomings, notably in the area of impunity, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The European Union continues to offer its assistance to both the Philippine government and the civil society in addressing these issues.”

Democracy, the rule of law and human rights are the core values of the European Union. This is reflected in the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), an EU flagship programme for the promotion of human rights. Currently the EU Delegation is managing several projects under the EIDHR, among them the current project with TFDP “Dialogue and Consensus-building for the Monitoring and Prevention of Torture and Violence against Women and Children”.

Media Contact: Thelma Gecolea, Public Affairs Officer, Phone 859 5124

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