[Off-the-shelf] Activists and Journalists Targeted as Draconian Anti-Terror Law Challenged in the Philippines -CIVICUS Monitor
Activists and Journalists Targeted as Draconian Anti-Terror Law Challenged in the Philippines
Philippines’ civic space rating was downgraded by the CIVICUS Monitor in early December 2020 from ‘obstructed’ to ‘repressed’. The rating change was driven by attacks on human rights defenders and journalists, the vilification and criminalisation of activists, the assault on press freedom, and the passage of new draconian anti-terror law.
On 15th December 2020, the office of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor said there was a “reasonable basis” to believe that crimes against humanity were committed during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
In January 2021, Investigate PH, a group of individuals and civil society groups, formally launched an independent international probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines. Organised by US-based International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), the group is composed of representatives from various lawyers’ and faith-based groups, as well as trade unions in the United States, Canada and Australia. It said it would release three reports to be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The first two reports will be released for upcoming UNHRC sessions in March and July 2021. The group will also submit findings to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In recent months, human rights defenders, trade unions and journalists have been arrested on fabricated charges or killed. The Department of National Defence terminated a decades-old agreement that prohibits state forces from entering University of the Philippines’ campuses without prior notice to school officials while security forces raided an indigenous Lumad school in Cebu City. Civil society groups are challenging the draconian anti-terror law in the Supreme Court.
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