Tag Archives: United Nations Human Rights Committee

[From the web] The right to vote and the UN Human Rights Committee By Atty. Harry Roque Jr.

The right to vote and the UN Human Rights Committee
By Atty. Harry Roque Jr.
May. 23, 2013

Atty. Harry Roque Photo: http://humanrightshouse.org

Atty. Harry Roque Photo: http://humanrightshouse.org

Civil society groups filed this month an unprecedented Communication with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva alleging violation of their right to vote pursuant to Art. 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The said article provides that “every citizen shall have the right to vote which shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors.”

The right to vote, according to the Committee in its General Comment 25, include guaranteeing the “ security of ballot boxes” and that “votes should be counted in the presence of the candidates or their agents.” The Committee further opined “there should be independent scrutiny of the voting and counting process so that electors have confidence in the security of the ballot and the counting of the votes”.

The Human Rights Committee is a body of experts tasked with monitoring states’ compliance with their obligations under the Covenant. The Philippines, as a party to the Additional Protocol to the ICCPR, has recognized the competence of the Committee to receive communications from citizens about their state’s breach or non-compliance with their treaty obligations. The latest view expressed by the Committee against the Philippines was a result of the communication made by Alexander

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sign petiton2 smallPhoto by TFDP

[In the news]Supreme Court tackles online libel provision in debates over Cybercrime Law | Sun.Star

Supreme Court tackles online libel provision in debates over Cybercrime Law | Sun.Star.
January 15, 2013

sunstar-network copyMANILA (Updated) — Justices of the Supreme Court (SC) began entertaining arguments against the constitutionality of Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 on Tuesday, as a lawyer called on Congress to finally decriminalize libel.

In discussing the demerits of online libel and cybersex, University of the Philippines professor Harry Roque said these provisions should be struck down for infringing on freedom of expression. He said the provisions are not clear and prone to abuse.

He also pitched to the justices the call of the United Nations Human Rights Committee to lessen the gravity of penalty for those who will be found guilty of libel. Instead, the offender should be accountable for civil damages, he said.

Read full article @www.sunstar.com.ph

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[Press Release] UN Human Rights Committee review revealed “several areas of deficit” in the Philippine human rights records

UN Human Rights Committee review revealed “several areas of deficit” in the Philippine human rights records

Geneva 15 – 16 October 2012. The United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded the examination of the fourth periodic report of the Philippines on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This review took place on 15 and 16 October 2012 in Geneva and was attended by a dozen Civil Society Organisations (CSO) from the Philippines that submitted several reports.

On October 16, the Chair of the Human Rights Committee, Zonke Majodina, concluded the dialogue on the state of human rights in the Philippines. She referred to positive developments that took place since the previous examination in 2003, including the recent adoption of the Framework Agreement between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the 2009 anti-torture act.

The Human Rights Committee remained concerned about many difficulties faced by the State. The Chair noted “several areas of deficit” in the implementation of the ICCPR. She expressed the need for clarification on the status of the ICCPR in domestic law, whether it was regarded as binding or only persuasive authority, and she expressed concern about the absence of existing measures to implement the Committee’s views under its individual communications procedure.

The Committee noted the continuing occurrence of extra-judicial killings and the high rate of enforced disappearances; the poor results of investigations and the lack of prosecution, including the slow progress in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre. The Committee is concerned about the role of the private armed and the military auxiliary groups as well as the high number of loose weapons in circulation in the country.

In addition, the Committee is alarmed by the problem of overcrowding in prisons in Philippines, a matter that was already raised by the Committee during the last review, but which has not been addressed to-date. With regard to torture, the Government did not provide any statistics to substantiate its claim that torture is not prevalent.

With regard to women’s rights, the Chairperson said the Committee is deeply concerned about the “sharia laws and their impact on women”. The Committee was also alarmed that reproductive rights are still not guaranteed, that access to contraception is highly restricted, and that abortion without exception is criminalized. According to the State Delegation, the maternal mortality ratio has increased by a quarter from 2006 and 2010.

The Committee welcomed the landmark AngLadlad ruling of the Supreme Court that allowed an LGBT party to participate in the election but stressed that more needs to be done due to the continuing absence of anti-discrimination legislation, presence of a vague public scandal law, and anti-LGBT prejudice by military and election officials. The State delegation responded by noting persistent, “prejudices against LGBTs.”

The Human Rights Committee will make its recommendations public at the end of its session, on 1st November 2012.

Background information:
The archived webcast of the Philippines review can be seen at treatybodywebcast.org.
• NGO reports on the Philippines
4th State Report on Philippines

Contacts in Philippines:
– Rose Trajano – PAHRA – pahra@philippinehumanrights.org
– Ricardo Sunga – TFDP – tfdp.1974@gmail.com
– Ging Cristobal – IGLHRC – gcristobal@iglhrc.org
– Jonas Bagas – TLF Share – jonasbagas@gmail.com
– Marie Hilao-Enriquez – KARAPATAN – karapatan.pid2@gmail.com
Contacts in Geneva:
– Stuart Halford – Center for Reproductive Rights & SRI – stuart.geneva@sri-crr.org
– Asger Kjaerum – IRCT – akj@irct.org
– Patrick Mutzenberg – CCPR-Centre – pmutzenberg@ccprcentre.org

[Resources] UN HRC- Participation in the reporting process, Guidelines For NGOs -CCPR

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE- Participation in the reporting process
Guidelines For Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

“These guidelines make readily available to all NGOs the expertise which the Centre
for Civil and Political Rights has accrued in the area of the reporting process. The
combination of detailed practical and substantive information should make these
Guidelines extremely useful in facilitating and honing the work of NGOs in relation to
the Human Rights Committee.”

Zonke Majodina
Member of the Human Rights Committee
NGO Focal Point

Read complete guidelines @ ccprcentre.org

[Resources] Submission of KARAPATAN to UNHRC for ICCPR

Submission of the national human rights organization KARAPATAN, Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its 106th Session Palais Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland, October 15-November 2, 2012

This is an alternative note of the Philippine national human rights organization, KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s ights to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) in its 106th session to review the compliance of the Philippine State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The note seeks to illustrate to the HRC that extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as other human rights iolations like disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment continue and persist with impunity in the Philippines.

KARAPATAN is a national human rights organization documenting and investigating cases of human rights violations in the Philippines. It also assists victims and their families in seeking remedies and justice for these violations. KARAPATAN has sixteen (16) regional offices in the archipelago that gather reports and send these to the National Office in Manila to be consolidated into quarterly and annual reports which the Alliance regularly come up with, publish and disseminate.

Read complete report @ www2.ohchr.org

[Resources] PHILIPPINES Civil Society Report on the Implementation of the ICCPR

PHILIPPINES Civil Society Report on the Implementation of the ICCPR
(Replies to the List of Issues CCPR)

Civil Society Report to the UN Human Rights Committee, 106th Session (October 15-November 2, 2012) for the Philippines Fourth Periodic Report on the CCPR.

The preparation and submission of this report is a collaborative effort of twenty (20) CSOs and NGOs facilitated by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) with support from the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR).

Read complete report @ www2.ohchr.org

[Resources] Torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines–Implementation of the Anti-Torture Act

Torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines–Implementation of the Anti-Torture Act 

The Alternative Report jointly prepared and submitted by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), the Medical Action Group (MAG) and the Balay Rehabilitation Center to the UN Human Rights Committee, 106th Session (October 15-Novemner 2, 2012) for the Philippines Fourth Periodic Report on the CCPR.

Read full report @ www2.ohchr.org

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[In the news] Petitions vs cybercrime law continue to flood SC -PhilStar.com

Petitions vs cybercrime law continue to flood SC
By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star
September 29, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Protests against RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act continues to mount at the Supreme Court (SC) after a fifth group yesterday filed another petition seeking to stop implementation of questioned provisions in the new law.

A group of journalists, bloggers and lawyers led by UP law professor Harry Roque Jr. argued that five provisions of the law violate not only constitutional rights of citizens in cyberspace but also run counter to the contractual obligation of the government to the United Nations.

They slammed the government for criminalizing libel on the Internet when the United Nations had already pointed out that libel under the Revised Penal Code was “incompatible” with the Filipino’s freedom of expression.

Petitioners cited the findings of UN Human Rights Committee on the case of radio broadcaster Alexander Adonis, who sought relief from the UN after having been found guilty on the libel charge slapped by former House speaker Prospero Nograles and imprisoned for two years.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

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[Press Release] New ‘Cybercrime’ Law Will Harm Free Speech -Human Rights Watch

Philippines: New ‘Cybercrime’ Law Will Harm Free Speech
Supreme Court to Rule on Act That Worsens Criminal Defamation

(New York, September 28, 2012) – A new Philippine “cybercrime” law drastically increases punishments for criminal libel and gives authorities excessive and unchecked powers to shut down websites and monitor online information, Human Rights Watch said today. President Benigno Aquino III signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 into law on September 12, 2012.

The law’s criminal penalties for online libel and other restrictions are a serious threat to free expression in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch said. Several legal cases have been filed in the Philippines Supreme Court, including for the law to be declared unconstitutional because it violates guarantees to free expression contained in the Philippines constitution and human rights treaties ratified by the Philippines.

“The cybercrime law needs to be repealed or replaced,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It violates Filipinos’ rights to free expression and it is wholly incompatible with the Philippine government’s obligations under international law.”

The new law defines several new acts of “cybercrime.” Among the acts prohibited are “cybersex,” online child pornography, illegal access to computer systems or hacking, online identity theft, and spamming.

A section on libel specifies that criminal libel, already detailed in article 355 of the Philippines Revised Penal Code, will now apply to acts “committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.” The new law drastically increases the penalty for computer-related libel, with the minimum punishment raised twelve-fold, from six months to six years. The maximum punishment is doubled from six to twelve years in prison.

“Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader – including government officials – bring a libel charge,” Adams said. “Allegedly libelous speech, online or offline, should be handled as a private civil matter, not a crime.”

Human Rights Watch called on the Philippines government to repeal its existing criminal libel law. The Aquino administration has shown little inclination to support legislation pending in the Philippine Congress to decriminalize libel.

Aside from the section on libel, the new law has a provision that grants new powers to the Department of Justice, which on its own and without a warrant, can order the shutdown of any website it finds violating the law. It also authorizes police to collect computer data in real time without a court order or warrant.

The use of criminal defamation laws also has a chilling effect on the speech of others, particularly those involved with similar issues, Human Rights Watch said.

When citizens face prison time for complaining about official performance, corruption, or abusive business practices, other people take notice and are less likely to draw attention to such problems themselves, undermining effective governance and civil society.

Several journalists in the Philippines have been imprisoned for libel in recent years, leaving a blot on the country’s record on press freedom. In the case of Davao City radio journalist Alexander Adonis, who was convicted in 2007 of libel and spent two years in prison, the United Nations Human Rights Committee determined that the Philippine government violated article 19 on the right to freedom of expression and opinion of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The committee called on the Philippine government to decriminalize libel.

“So long as it stands, the new cybercrime law will have a chilling effect over the entire Philippine online community,” Adams said.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/-philippines

To view the 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Turning Critics into Criminals,” please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/05/04/turning-critics-criminals

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[Statement] Medical Action Group (MAG) response to the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Medical Action Group (MAG) response to the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

The abolition of nuclear weapons is a fundamental human right in a democratic world.

The Medical Action Group (MAG), a member of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is deeply concerned over the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK).

As an organization of doctors and medical professionals in the Philippines, we deplore the production, testing, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons in view of their health and environmental effects.

The World Health Assembly adopted a resolution in 1983 asserting that “nuclear weapons constitute the greatest immediate threat to the health and survival of mankind.” The World Medical Association (WMA) condemned nuclear weapons in 1998, and just renewed its call for their elimination at the WMA annual meeting in Seoul, in October 2009.

In 1984 the United Nations Human Rights Committee noted that “It is evident that the designing, testing, manufacture, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons are among the greatest threats to the right to life which confront mankind today,” and concluded that “The production, testing, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons should be prohibited and recognized as crimes against humanity.”[1]

The nuclear war and security policy based on the capability to threaten the use of nuclear weapons is antithesis of health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The actual human cost of the nuclear arms race will never be known. Many of the individual cases of health problems and deaths likely to be caused by the nuclear weapons cycle are difficult to link to it. Radioactive elements enter the body furtively and do their damage secretly leaving no business cards. They will continue their rampage until they are exhausted, which for some radioactive elements, will be over a hundred thousand years from now.

MAG with the IPPNW calls for increased contact and communication with the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and will work with our affiliate, the Korean Anti-Nuke Peace Physicians (KANPP) towards that end. We also call on all parties to show restraint so that this situation does not escalate into a military confrontation.

MAG is one with the IPPNW in the campaign for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and that “the double standard by which some states have claimed that nuclear weapons are essential to their security while denying that right to others is both reprehensible and unsustainable. The urgent need for a global nuclear-weapon-free zone through the negotiation and adoption of a Nuclear Weapons Convention is the real lesson of this unfortunate decision by a tragically isolated state.”

In solidarity,

Petronilo Pascual, M.D.
Chairperson
Medical Action Group

April 27, 2012

[1] Human Rights Committee General Comment 13 (23) on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, November 2, 1984.

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[In the news] Unlikely hero: Alex Adonis and the fight to decriminalize libel -InterAksyon.com

Unlikely hero: Alex Adonis and the fight to decriminalize libel
by Dino Testa, InterAksyon.com
February 28, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — For years, media organizations in the country have been campaigning for the decriminalization of libel, saying the existing law, which dates back to the American colonial period and was used to curtail dissent, continues to be used with impunity by those in power more to muzzle press freedom than to seek redress against journalistic abuse.

Recently, what could be their biggest breakthrough came when the United Nations Human Rights Committee deemed the country’s criminal libel law “incompatible” with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights, which protects the right to free expression and opinion.

The Philippines has ratified the Covenant. Thus, while the UNHRC resolution may not be legally binding, it is expected to put pressure on the government to push for the decriminalization of libel.

For this development, Filipino journalists owe a debt to one colleague who, ironically, was forced to give up more than two years of his life.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[From the web] A triumph for free expression and press freedom – CMFR

A triumph for free expression and press freedom
BY CMFR
January 31, 2012

STATEMENT OF THE FREEDOM FUND FOR FILIPINO JOURNALISTS (FFFJ) ON THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE’S VIEW THAT THE PHILIPPINE LIBEL LAW IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS (ICCPR)

 THE Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) hails as a triumph for free expression and press freedom the declaration by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), which was adopted during the 103rd session of the United Nations, that the provisions of the Philippines’ Revised Penal Code (RPC) penalizing libel as a criminal offense is “incompatible with Article 19, paragraph three of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)” to which the Philippines is a signatory.

Recalling its General Comment No. 34 that “state parties should consider the decriminalization of defamation” the UNHRC also recommended the decriminalization of libel in the Philippines, as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has been urging for nearly two decades. It also recommended the review of the libel law, and urged the Philippine government to compensate Davao City broadcaster Alexander “Alex” Adonis for time served in prison.

Under the provisions of the RPC, libel is punishable with imprisonment, although some of those convicted of the offense have also been subjected to exorbitant fines running into millions of pesos. The possibility of being arrested and imprisoned even before conviction for libel has been used to silence critical journalists. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, for example, filed 11 libel suits against 46 journalists starting in 2006 in an attempt to stop press reporting on and criticism of his wife.

The UNHRC issued the declaration in response to a 2008 complaint filed by Adonis protesting his conviction and subsequent imprisonment for supposedly libeling then House Speaker Prospero Nograles when he reported over his radio program in 2006 that Nograles had run out of a hotel room without his clothes on when the husband of the woman he had supposedly spent the night with showed up. Adonis was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of five months to four years, but questioned the decision after he had served two years. Lawyer Harry Roque filed the complaint, with the CMFR and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) as Adonis’ co-signatories.

It is now up to the Philippine government to take the steps necessary to decriminalize libel and prevent similar occurrences, to cause the immediate dismissal of all pending cases of criminal libel, as well as to compensate Adonis and every other journalist who has been imprisoned under the provisions of the Philippine libel law. To hurry the process along, the FFFJ calls on all journalists’ and media advocacy groups as well as civil society organizations to campaign for the immediate adoption of the UNCHR recommendations, including the dropping of all pending criminal libel charges against journalists.

Founded in 2003 to stop the killing of journalists and to support journalists under threat, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) is a coalition of journalist and media advocacy groups Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and Philippine Press Institute (PPI). CMFR is the FFFJ Secretariat.

Read full article @ www.cmfr-phil.org