[Press Release] Human Rights Groups ask the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a strong resolution on the Philippines due to continuing human rights violations -PAHRA

Human Rights Groups ask the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a strong resolution on the Philippines due to continuing human rights violations

Quezon City- The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) appealed to the ongoing 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) asking for a strong resolution on the Philippines, following a renewed spate of killings in the country. The groups sought the establishment of an international investigation into the human rights crises in the country.

In a statement the groups cited new documented cases of ten killings between May to September 2020. Recalling the message of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to delegates of the HRC during the 44th Session in June, the groups said that the DOJ inter-agency panel Guevarra claimed to conduct investigations into EJKs is not credible:

“… the panel failed to meet international standards of independence and impartiality due to its member agencies’ main role in the implementation of the illegal drugs campaign. There has been no significant engagement with civil society and despite the signing of a memorandum with the Commission on Human Rights, no further movement has been observed from this panel. Thus, we find that this initiative of the Justice Department can only provide a smokescreen to the continuing bloody campaign.”

The groups said families of victims of the killings remain distrustful of the government, which keep them from cooperating in official inquiries, if any.
Also cited were reports of other human rights groups:
“Human Rights Watch found 155 persons killed in the past four months from government statistics. In addition, before the Covid-19 crisis, 103 persons were killed by the Police from December 2019 to March 2020.[1] ”

The message also raised the alarm on the terrorist-tagging of human rights personalities and organizations in the Philippines by the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the AFP.
Observations were also made of the pandemic response of the government:

“Adopting the drug war’s blueprint, the government’s implementation of a militarist response to an unprecedented public health crisis has exacerbated the people’s deprived living conditions. Communities which were traumatized by the summary killings, have been re-traumatized by the erection of checkpoints manned by soldiers and police, as well as severe punishments for lockdown violators.”

The groups called for the Council’s urgent action to follow up the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the Philippines in June.

“A strong resolution on the Philippines expresses the international community’s commitment to end impunity and to exact accountability against the perpetrators. A strong resolution serves to bring justice more closely to those who have been victims of the grave human rights violations; a strong resolution will provide crucial impetus to ending the attacks against human rights defenders.”

[1] https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/09/08/killings-Philippines-50-percent-during-pandemic

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