[Press Release] Philippine human rights groups disappointed at the UNHRC resolution on the Philippines -PAHRA, iDEFEND

#StopTheKillings [Press Release] Philippine #humanrights groups disappointed at the UNHRC resolution on the Philippines

Quezon City- Human Rights groups belonging to the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) expressed disappointment at the resolution of the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council on the Philippines. The resolution offered technical cooperation and capacity building to the Philippine government in response to the widespread killings and grave human rights violations, which comprise the findings of the report of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights last June.

“We have been communicating and advocating with the UN Human Rights Council since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016 and we have exposed a pattern of systematic killings under the war on drugs; said Ms. Rose Trajano, Secretary-General of PAHRA and convenor of iDEFEND, “our reports as well as those from other CSOs enabled the International Criminal Court to launch a preliminary inquiry into the cases of extrajudicial killings, yet the UNHRC has decided to follow a lesser path” Trajano added.

“The fact that killings increased during the period of quarantine including those of human rights defenders, prompted the European Parliament to pass a resolution threatening to review the trade privileges of the Philippines with the European Union. It is lamentable that precisely when the international community is responding to the report of the High Commissioner, the UNHRC has taken a step back”, said Ms. Judy Pasimio, iDEFEND Spokesperson.

The groups said that the government aggressively lobbied to weaken the international body’s response to the human rights crises, by emphasizing its struggle with the current pandemic and by effectively tagging human rights defenders as terrorists who have “weaponized human rights”.

In a live-streamed discussion, panelists said the Council’s resolution may be sending the wrong signal to the government.

“What’s dangerous is that the government was able to peddle its justification for this kind of outcome and is now emboldened because the international community seemed to accept the government’s message that domestic mechanisms are working,” said Joseph Purugganan, head of the Philippine office of the Focus on the Global South.

Philippine groups and their international counterparts have been campaigning for an independent international investigation into the human rights crisis in the country. The discussion’s panelists said that the only way technical cooperation can gain any credibility among the people is if the killings and violence are stopped immediately.

In a statement delivered at the 45th UNHRC session, international NGOs concluded that “This is a collective failure by the States at this Council. We are shocked by the lack of support for a more robust response.” They added that “The Council must be ready to live up to its responsibility to ensure an independent investigation if the killings and the crackdown on civil society do not immediately end.”

iDEFEND and PAHRA vowed to continue to fight for human rights and engage domestic and international human rights mechanisms until justice is realized for all victims of human rights violations.

On Thursday, October 8, 2020, at 4:00 in the afternoon, iDEFEND and PAHRA will have a live-streamed discussion on the implications of the resolution, the processes involved in the technical cooperation, and the role of the UN resident coordinator in the Philippines. Invited speakers are from the Commission on Human Rights, the UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines, EJK victims’ families, and CSOs. Invitations to the media will follow.

Contact: Neca Reyes 09237280690

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