On 3rd June 2019, in ongoing effort to protect human rights defenders (HRDs) from continued attacks and harassment, the Philippines House of Representatives unanimously approved a Human Rights Defenders bill. Although the bill only becomes law once the Senate and President approves it, the recent decision by the House has brought the country one step closer towards its passage.
The bill includes the recognition of the rights for HRDs to form organisations, receive resources, disseminate information, communicate with international bodies and the right peaceful assemble, as well the country’s obligation to respect and protect human rights defenders. Once signed into law, the Bill will create a Human Rights Defenders Protection Committee chaired by a Commissioner from the National Commission on Human Rights and six members who will be jointly nominated by concerned civil society organisations.
A counterpart bill is pending with the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights since it was presented by Senator De Lima in February 2018. A reconciliation of the Senate and House of Representatives Bills will ultimately constitute law in the Philippines.
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