Tag Archives: United Nations

[In the news] Human rights group declares UN probe a victory for EJK victims -GMAnews

The In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement on Friday characterized the United Nations Human Rights Council’s decision to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs as a “huge victory” for the families of victims of extrajudicial killings.

Interviewed on Balitanghali on Friday, iDEFEND spokesperson Ellecer “Budit” Carlos said his organization, as well as other partners “shed tears” at the main session hall as the United Nations council adopted its resolution in Geneva.

“Malaking tagumpay ito para sa libo-libong mga pamilya na biktima ng extrajudicial killings diyan sa atin sa Pilipinas,” Carlos said.

Carlos pointed out that they had no other recourse but to seek accountability from the international community given the slow Philippine criminal justice system.

The UNHRC resolution, proposed by Iceland, was adopted after 18 countries voted in favor of it and 14 others, including China, voted against it. Fifteen other countries, including Japan, abstained.

iDEFEND was one of the groups that originally submitted a UNHRC petition seeking a review of the Philippine war on drugs.

Read more @www.gmanetwork.com

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[From the web] UN: Philippines, Eritrea Don’t Belong on Rights Council Competition-Free Slates Undermine Body’s Credibility, Effectiveness -HRW

UN: Philippines, Eritrea Don’t Belong on Rights Council
Competition-Free Slates Undermine Body’s Credibility, Effectiveness

(New York, October 11, 2018) – United Nations member countries should oppose the candidacies of the Philippines and Eritrea for the Human Rights Council because of their egregious human rights records, Human Rights Watch said today. Serious rights violations in Bahrain and Cameroon also raise significant concerns. On October 12, 2018, the UN General Assembly will vote to fill one-third of the seats on the 47-member council for the 2019-21 term.

All five of the General Assembly’s regional groups submitted competition-free slates, meaning that all candidates, regardless of their rights records, are virtually assured seats on the council. The absence of competition reverses the modest progress in previous years when some slates offered a modicum of competition. By putting forward serious rights violators and presenting only as many candidates as seats available, the regional groups risk undermining the council’s credibility and effectiveness.

“UN member countries should show their outrage at the Philippines and Eritrea by leaving two spots on the ballot sheet blank and keeping them off the council,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive ‘war on drugs’ has been a killing frenzy that has left thousands dead. In Eritrea, the authorities persecute and jail government critics and force citizens into indefinite national service.”

Countries need a minimum of 97 votes – a simple majority – to get elected to the council.

The Philippines is undergoing a human rights crisis that may amount to crimes against humanity. Since Duterte took office in July 2016, more than 12,000 suspected drug dealers and users have been gunned down in what they call “legitimate police operations.” Human Rights Watch and other rights groups, as well as the media, have found a pattern of police misconduct, notably the planting of drugs and handguns on suspects’ bodies. The killings continue daily and have spread to cities and provinces outside the capital, Manila. The Duterte administration has sought to quell all dissent and criticism of the “drug war” by jailing, threatening, and harassing critics. No police officer has been convicted for any of these deaths.

The recent arrest of Eritrea’s former finance minister is indicative of the ongoing repression in the country, despite recent progress in its diplomatic engagements. Eritrean political prisoners include 21 senior government officials and journalists detained since 2001 after they criticized President Isaias Afewerki. Some have been in incommunicado detention without charge for over 17 years.

A 1995 proclamation requires 18 months of national service for all Eritreans, but the government forces many conscripts to serve indefinitely. A UN Commission of Inquiry in 2016 said the government’s “totalitarian practices” and disrespect for the rule of law manifested “wholesale disregard for the liberty of its citizens.” Indefinite national service has compelled tens of thousands of Eritreans to flee the country over many years.

As a condition of membership, Human Rights Council members are expected to cooperate with the council and its rights experts. Instead, the Philippines has carried out vicious campaigns against UN officials, including against the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and the high commissioner for human rights. Eritrea has refused all cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry and a special rapporteur, whom the Council appoints.

Human Rights Watch also raised serious concerns about human rights in Bahrain and Cameroon. In Bahrain, the courts have convicted and imprisoned peaceful dissenters, including prominent human rights defenders such as Nabeel Rajab. Police and National Security Agency officers threaten, coerce, and mistreat detainees into signing confessions. Authorities have failed to hold officials responsible for torture to account.

In Cameroon, government security forces and armed separatists have committed grave abuses against residents of the country’s Anglophone region. The region has been rocked by protests and violent clashes rooted in longstanding political grievances of the Anglophone minority. While the government has taken some positive steps in recent months, including signing the Safe Schools Declaration, violence and abuses in the Anglophone region continue.

In addition to Bahrain and the Philippines, the Asia group has also nominated Fiji, India, and Bangladesh. In addition to Eritrea and Cameroon, the Africa group has nominated Burkina Faso, Togo, and Somalia. The Latin American group has put forward Argentina, Uruguay, and the Bahamas. Eastern Europe has proposed Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. From Western Europe, Austria, Denmark, and Italy are running.

The Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the failed UN Commission on Human Rights, which had largely been unwilling to address grave human rights concerns and to which the world’s worst rights violators could easily be elected. Over the last 12 years, the council has made significant contributions to human rights, reviewing the human rights records of all countries under the Universal Periodic Review process.

It has created commissions of inquiry on North Korean, Syria, Burundi, Myanmar, Yemen, and other countries. And it has appointed numerous special rapporteurs and other independent experts to ensure competent and impartial investigations into alleged abuses even when the country concerned refused to cooperate.

The council recently displayed its important role protecting and promoting human rights. In its September 2018 session, the first since the US withdrew from the body, the council created a quasi special prosecutor unit to gather and preserve evidence related to the abuses against the Rohingya in Myanmar. It adopted the UN’s first-ever resolution on the crisis in Venezuela, renewed the mandate of the UN investigation into abuses by all parties to the conflict in Yemen, and held the first public discussion of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report on reprisals against human rights defenders by such countries as China, Egypt, and Bahrain.

“Many UN member states talk a good game about strengthening the Human Rights Council, but this year all regional groups ignored the need for competitive elections,” Charbonneau said. “Instead of pushing candidates to demonstrate they’re worthy of joining the UN’s premier human rights body, the UN membership has put forward a non-competitive vote that makes a mockery of the word ‘election.’”

For more Human Rights Watch information on the Human Rights Council, visit: https://www.hrw.org/topic/united-nations/human-rights-council

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[From the web] UN human rights review is largely toothless – but it’s giving a boost to Asian civil society groups

UN human rights review is largely toothless – but it’s giving a boost to Asian civil society groups

A United Nations initiative reviewing human rights records of countries around the world is indirectly strengthening civil society organisations in Southeast Asia by allowing them to participate in the process. But the groups are still blocked from ensuring human rights are meaningfully protected in their countries.

The UN General Assembly established its Human Rights Council and introduced the universal periodic review of the human rights situation in member countries in 2006. The ten Southeast Asian countries that make up ASEAN – Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam – have now undergone two cycles of review, while a few remaining nations are awaiting the second round.

Under the process, states report to the commission every four-and-a-half years and receive its recommendations. Reviews focus on the evolution of human rights in that state, and its implementation of previous recommendations. The state under review may either “accept” or “note” the suggestions.

Recommendations that states tend to accept are those around improving gender equality, accessibility for those with disabilities, and children’s rights, which has gained particular prominence during the review.

Recommendations that aren’t as acceptable tend to involve hard political issues related to civil and political liberties. Unsurprisingly, it’s usually the latter that are detailed in submissions by civil society organisations.

Read full article @theconversation.com

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[Statement] MAG’s Position Paper on the Proposed Law Establishing the National Preventive Mechanism

[Note] MAG’s Position Paper on the Proposed Law Establishing the National Preventive Mechanism.
by dars0357.wordpress.com

The Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT) establishes “a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.


The setting up of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) as one or several visiting bodies designated or maintained, at the domestic level, is in fact already long overdue as the Philippines is obligated to establish this preventive system within one year from its ratification of the OPCAT in 2012.

Nonetheless, the Medical Action Group (MAG) welcomes the on-going legislative process at the House of Representatives for the enactment of the NPM to complement the implementation of Republic Act No. 9745 or the “Anti Torture Law of 2009”. This piece of legislation seeks to prevent the act of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and to complete the necessary protection mechanism to end torture impunity.

While the OPCAT does not specify a specific form or structure for the NPM and the states are free to designate one or several new or existing bodies as their NPMs. It does however provide minimum requirements for the NPM according to which it should be:

  • Independent (its function, personal and institutional capacity);
  • Provided with sufficient resources (financial, human, logistical or material);
  • Have the expertise necessary to fulfil its mandate;
  • Have powers and guarantees, in particular access to all places of deprivation of liberty, information and persons; and
  • Enjoy privileges and immunities (i.e. protection from sanctions and confidentiality of information).

One of the possible organizational forms that the NPM can take is the designation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the CHR is to ‘exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities. But these are merely general visitorial powers. However, the visiting mandate of the NPM is specifically aimed at the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and has particular features prescribed by the OPCAT for unrestricted and unannounced visits. Thus, the NPM should be proactive and non-adversarial in its approach.

The MAG is fully supporting the proposed set up reflected in House Bill No. 5193 authored by Reps. Kit Belmonte and Barry Gutierrez for the establishment of the NPM as an attached agency to the CHR. An attached body to the CHR can make possible the diversity of expertise, but also gender balance and the adequate representation of ethnic and minority groups.

Nonetheless, whatever form the NPM may take, what is essential is that the NPM can carry out its mandate to conduct regular visits to all places of detentions without restriction. Their visits should lead to reports and concrete recommendations to improve the protection of persons deprived of liberty. After which, an annual report on their activities and their findings must be published after consultations with relevant government agencies and non-government organizations. The NPM can also give comments on relevant laws and regulations and propose for necessary reforms.

However, the setting up of the NPM should not be limited to legal consideration as it also involves health issues. The MAG believes that the participation of medical and health professionals in these visiting mechanisms is essential to address health issues related to torture and ill-treatment, examines and gives treatment to detainees, recommending actions to be taken to improve the treatment of detainees, to evaluate the health system and to assess the impact of general conditions of detention on the heath of detained population.

The United Nations Manual on the effective investigation and documentation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (or ‘Istanbul Protocol’) was developed to specifically use for torture documentation using scientific evidence based gathering. The Istanbul Protocol is now an internationally recognized guideline for medical and legal experts. It can be used as a tool to gather and document accurate and reliable evidence in connection with cases where torture is alleged and to help practitioners to assess the consistency between allegations and medical findings.

The medical professionals are in essence a key to prevent torture impunity. The medical documentation and medico-legal reports (MLR) that they write are important facts that can be used as pieces of evidence in legal or administrative proceeding for prosecuting torture cases and facilitating redress and reparation for survivors. It is therefore important to increase the capacity of medical practitioners in evaluating the physical and medical conditions of persons deprived of liberty using of the Istanbul Protocol. Thus, the Department of Health (DoH) needs to take an active role in the work of the NPM.

While the Republic Act (RA) No. 9745 or Anti-Torture Law has a number of strong provisions relating to victim’s access to a physical, medical and psychological examination, but until now, torture victims still rarely have access to a legal counsel and a medical doctor immediately after arrest and during detention. And even if investigating authorities guarantee the access to medical examination, the lack of formal knowledge and capacity of the medical doctors who are often among the first persons to come into contact with torture survivors creates a medical complicity as some doctors don’t perform the medical examination properly and diligently either due to low awareness on torture documentation or because of the intimidation or the fear of reprisal from the government authorities.

Thus in many cases, the investigations concerning allegations of torture are either completely unreliable. In some cases, medical examination is only allowed after inquest as torture victims were only seen by doctors assigned to any police or military health centers or to government hospitals who often just do cursory “check list” physical examinations with no inquiries about how torture marks may have been inflicted and the medical certificates have no reference to torture and the need for medical treatment.

Prevention of torture must also go hand in hand with prison reform. Prison condition as MAG observed is the most punishing aspect of doing time in jails. The general prison conditions are not only found dangerous to health and to human life. It breeds diseases, breaks down of one’s sanity and exacerbates tensions among inmates. Sexual violence and abuse are also being reported rampant in the correctional and custodial system. This is despite the passage of the Republic Act 10575 or the Prison Modernization Act of 2013. Major reforms must be undertaken that could give prison inmates a chance at rehabilitation and a meaningful life after imprisonment.

MAG has been advocating for prison reform for the past three decades. We have in fact submitted a recommendation to the Office of the Executive Secretary in 2011 on the Amended Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency particularly on Section 3 regarding Extraordinary Circumstances. We then proposed that:

  • for humanitarian reason, to lower the age cut-off requirement to sixty (60) from seventy (70) years old; and
  • for medical reason, to include terminally ill prisoners and debilitating diseases.
  • This as we argued conforms to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners.

For the NPM to effectively work, the Subcommittee on the Prevention Against Torture has given special value on civil society’s involvement. Not only that individuals working for civil society members should be give a place in the NPM but the appointment procedures should be made transparent, inclusive and participatory.

For MAG, the creation of the NPM should not be considered merely a “quick fix solution” but rather should be given careful review of the its mandate, jurisdiction, independence, membership, powers and responsibilities and working methods, to ensure that it fully complies with the international human rights standards.

The work of the NPM should go beyond regular visits and recommendations by conducting awareness-raising, training, or even launching of localized public inquiries, consultation and coordination meetings on how to address torture and ill-treatment and the general conditions of detention.

Ending impunity requires accountability. But it can start from preventing the commission of the human rights violation through collaborative efforts.

Medical Action Group

Note: MAG’s position paper was presented during the Technical Working Group Meeting of Committee on Human Rights, at the House of Representatives on 10 February, 2015.

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[Resources] Web resource gathers human rights education commitments of States in one place -OHCHR

Web resource gathers human rights education commitments of States in one place

The UN Human Rights Office launches a new resource, making available all the human rights education provisions of treaties and other instruments in one place.


The web resource “The Right to Human Rights Education”, launched during a side event at the 27th session of the Human Rights Council, outlines in one place all the existing commitments by Member States — made at the United Nations and at the regional level — to undertake and promote human rights education.

In her opening remarks during the event, Jane Connors, Director of the UN Human Rights Office Research and Right to Development Division, said it was important to remember that human rights education is an essential prerequisite for realizing all human rights.

“If we don’t know what human rights are and how to protect them, how can we claim them or enforce them?” she said. “Effective human rights education is relevant to our daily lives. It engenders a discussion on how human rights norms can be translated into social, economic, cultural and political reality.”

The resource is aimed at governments, national human rights institutions, intergovernmental organizations and civil society. It is intended to serve as a guidance and advocacy tool for all these stakeholders.

The resource was three years in the making, and brought together a partnership of numerous groups including the International Contact Group on Citizenship and Human Rights Education, other intergovernmental organizations and civil society. It replaces a publication of the same name issued by the Human Rights Office in 1999 in printed form. Being web-based means the resource is easily updatable and more easily accessible to a much wider audience.

22 September 2014
Sourece: www.ohchr.org

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[From the web] Philippines: Justice in the wake of natural disaster -OHCHR

Philippines: Justice in the wake of natural disaster

Typhoon Haiyan has affected nearly ten million people in the Philippines, with more than four million displaced in nine regions. In the aftermath of the disaster, the administration of justice, an essential institution often overlooked, has been severely affected with court buildings, equipment and places of detention substantially destroyed in a number of major centres.


Judicial processes were badly hit in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. © OHCHRAlphinor Serrano, Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court in Tacloban City, explains: “the scale and destruction brought by Typhoon Haiyan took us all by surprise. With no emergency plan to rely upon for a disaster of this scale, our court rooms, offices, files and equipment were destroyed. Ninety five percent of my case files were under water and mud and court staff spent their days manually drying files and hanging them out to dry.”

“While we have made great efforts to get our courts functioning again, it is difficult and time consuming work and any delay has an impact on a person’s right to speedy trial and other due process rights,” Serrano said.

The UN Human Rights Office collaborating with the Human Rights Commission of the Philippines has undertaken a joint project to assist in rebuilding the judicial process in the affected regions and to begin a process which ensures better preparedness for future natural disasters.

After the destruction of a number of prisons, some inmates were moved to other jails without adequate access to their families, lawyers and medical care. Often, too, the cases of people who had been arrested and detained before the typhoon could not be processed as the files had been destroyed or lost.

Senior Police Superintendant Domingo Say Cabillan, from the city of Tacloban has reported that he is “dealing with a significant number of detainees who have been held for five months in police cells. The maximum time limit in Philippine law for people to be brought before the Prosecutors office to file a case upon the commission of the crime is thirty six hours for grave offences.”

“As the case files submitted to the Prosecutor’s office have in many of these cases been washed away, we have struggled to resolve the situation of these cases caught in a legal limbo,” Cabillan said.

The Human Rights Office and Human Rights Commission of the Philippines have been working very closely with the police, prison authorities and judiciary to address these issues of concern. At the end of April, OHCHR organized with the Commission a roundtable on the administration of justice with representative of the judiciary, the Philippines police, the Public Attorney and Prosecutors Offices, the Bureau of Jail and Penology Management and the Warden of Leyte province.

Participants discussed the impact of typhoon Haiyan on the administration of justice, proposing solutions to case backlogs, including the situation of twelve inmates, who have been detained in police cells since the typhoon struck in November last year and recommendations to limit the devastating effects of future disasters.

Judge Serrano welcomed the initiative: “It is clear that we need to rethink our institutional preparedness so that we can reduce the disruption to the justice system after a disaster. We need to make clear recommendations for action and put systems in place such as storing information electronically.”

The Chair of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Loretta Ann Rosales stressed the importance of the collaboration with the UN Human Rights Office: “Our joint monitoring with OHCHR has shown that our justice system is not only vulnerable but has ceased to function for a significant amount of time in the aftermath of a disaster such as Haiyan.”

“Where can I go to challenge the legality of my detention if the court is destroyed and the records are washed away? We need to plan. When people caught in this legal limbo have little opportunity to claim their due process rights, and duty bearers in the administration of justice are not able to respond to the challenges of the legality of detention, the right to due process will not be fulfilled,” Rosales said.

“We must not forget the vulnerability of criminal justice systems during emergencies,” she said. “Access to justice should become a critical part of our future disaster risk, resilience and reduction efforts in the Philippines.”

Source: www.ohchr.org

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[Statement] Joint Statement: Call for an international legally binding instrument on human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises

Joint Statement: Call for an international legally binding instrument on human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises

This statement has been endorsed by a wide alliance of international networks, organizations and social movements, listed below.[1] It represents the collective expression of a growing mobilization of global civil society calling for further enhancement of international legal standards to address corporate infringements of human rights. It welcomes the recent initiatives by States in the United Nations Human Rights Council, presented by Ecuador in the session of September 2013, to develop an international treaty on legally binding rules for TNCs on human rights issues.

Treaty Website Logo 2

We, the undersigned organisations,

Concerned about the continuing abuses and violations of human rights occurring all over the world which directly or indirectly engage the responsibility of business enterprises;

Concerned also that such abusive conduct often disproportionately impacts women, who comprise the majority of workers in the most vulnerable sectors, peasants, indigenous peoples, persons living in poverty, children among others, and especially concerned by the fact that justice is denied to those who suffer harm,

Considering the invaluable work done by human rights defenders and organisations, trade unions, indigenous rights and women rights defenders and others defending and protecting human rights in the face of corporate- related abuses,

Concerned at the incidence of attacks, harassment, restrictions, intimidation and reprisals against these human rights defenders,

Considering the initiatives taken by some States within and outside the United Nations human rights bodies as well as the action and work undertaken by human rights experts and bodies of the United Nations to provide better protection of human rights in the context of business operations,

Recalling existing States’ obligations under global and regional human rights treaties and the need to implement and complement those treaties to make them effective in the context of business transnational operations,

Convinced of the need to enhance the international legal framework, including international remedies, applicable to State action to protect rights in the context of business operations, and mindful of the urgent need to ensure access to justice and remedy and reparations for victims of corporate human rights abuse,

1. Call upon the States to elaborate an international treaty that:

Affirms the applicability of human rights obligations to the operations of transnational corporations and other business enterprises;
Requires States Parties to monitor and regulate the operations of business enterprises under their jurisdiction, including when acting outside their national territory, with a view to prevent the occurrence of abuses of human rights in the course of those operations;
Requires States Parties to provide for legal liability for business enterprises for acts or omissions that infringe human rights;
Requires States Parties to provide for access to an effective remedy by any State concerned, including access to justice for foreign victims that suffered harm from acts or omissions of a business enterprise in situations where there are bases for the States involved to exercise their territorial or extraterritorial protect- obligations;
Provides for an international monitoring and accountability mechanism;
Provides for protection of victims, whistle-blowers and human rights defenders that seek to prevent, expose or ensure accountability in cases of corporate abuse and guarantees their right to access to information relevant in this context.

2.            Call on the United Nations Human Rights Council to take step towards the elaboration of this treaty, and to that end establish an open ended inter-governmental working group tasked with a drafting mandate.

3.            Call on civil society organisations to take measures towards the establishment of a joint initiative to achieve the objective of a legally binding instrument within the United Nations without delay.

[1] This statement was originally drafted by participants in the first annual Peoples’ Forum on Human Rights and Business. The Forum was convened jointly by ESCR-Net and Forum-Asia from 5 to 7 November in Bangkok, Thailand.

List of Signatories

Accountability Counsel, USA
Action Contre l’Impunite pour les Droits Humains (ACIDH)
Actions pour les Droits, l’Environnement et la Vie , ADEV
ADC Memorial, Russia
ADHOC (Cambodia)
Afghanistan Watch
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network – AEFJN
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Africa Youth Coalition Against Hunger Sierra Leone
African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), Nigeria
African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)
AGORA Espacio Civil, Paraguay
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Alt-SEAN Burma)
Alyansya Tigil Mina – Alliance Against Mining (Philippines)
Amigos da Terra Brasil / Friends of the Earth Brazil
Anti-POSCO People’s Movement, India
Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA (Afghanistan)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Associação Mama Mater/IBFAN, Portugal
Association For Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
Association of Religious Liberty & Languages of Sri Lanka
Avocats Sans Frontieres
Birendra Adhikari Rural Reconstruction Nepal
Brot fuer die Welt
Burma Partnership
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egypt
CAJAR (Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo), Colombia
Canada Tibet Committee
Casa y Ciudad
CCS, Panama
CEDAL- Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo
CEDH (Centre Oecuménique des Droits Humain), Haïti
CEDHU (La Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos)
CENIDH, Nicaragua
Center for Human Rights Law Studies (HRLS) Faculty of Law, Universitas Airlangga
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Center for Women’s Global Leadership
Center of Concern, USA
Central America Women’s Network
Centre d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts Tropicales (CAGDFT)
Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), South Africa
Centre for human rights and development/Urantsooj Gombosuren
Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)
Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos (México)
Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales Antonio de Montesinos (CAM)
Centro de Investigación y Promoción Social (CIPROSOC)
Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos – Perú EQUIDAD
Centro de Promoción y Desarrollo Rural Amazónico – CEPODRA
Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral de Fomento Cultural y Educativo (CEREAL)
Citizens’ alliance for equitable and efficient development (creed) pakistan
Citizens for Justice-(CFJ), Malawi
Citizens Watch Russia
Clean Clothes Campaign
Coalición de Organizaciones Mexicanas por el Derecho al Agua (COMDA)
Col·lectiu RETS
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)
Comision Nacional de Enlace (CNE)
Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH), Colombie
Commission for the Disapeared and Victim of Violence (KontraS)
Commission Justice et Paix Belgique francophone
Committee for the Defence of Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR)
Community Resource Centre (CRC), Thailand
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Conseil Régionales des Organisations Non Gouvernementales de Développement en sigle CRONGD KASAI ORIENTAL
Consultoría Especializada en Justiciabilidad de los DESC (CEJUDESC)
CorA Network for Corporate Accountability
Defenders of Human Rights Centre – DHRC (Iran)
Defensoría del Derecho a la Salud
Democracy Center
DESCA Equipo Pueblo, México
Development and Civilisations Lebret-IRFED (DCLI)
Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh,India
Dignity International
DKA Austria – Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar, Austria
Due Process of Law Foundation
Ecologistas en Acción
Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (Espacio DESC)
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights,
entraide et fraternité
EOHR – Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights
Equitable Cambodia
Espacio de Coordinación de Organizaciones Civiles sobre Derechos
EU-ASEAN FTA Campaign Network
European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)
European Network of Archbishop Oscar Romero Committees
Europe-Third World Centre (CETIM)
FEMNET – Feministische Perspektiven auf Politik, Wirtschaft & Gesellschaft
FIAN Austria
FIAN Belgium
FIAN International
FIAN Nepal
FIAN Sección México
FIAN Sweden
FIAN Switzerland for the Right to Adequate Food
Fiery Hearts Club, Uzbekistan/France
Finnish League for Human Rights
FOCO Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos
Focus on the Global South
Food & Water Watch
Food Systems Integrity/Molly D. Anderson, P
Forum Menschenrechte, Germany
Franciscans International
Freedom from Debt Coalition-FDC, Philippines
Friends of the Earth International
Friends of the Earth US
Fundación Comunidad Esperanza y Justicia Internacional (FUNCEJI)
Gemeinschaft für Menschenrechte im Freistaat Sachsen (GMS)
Gidest – Mundo Construyendo Hábitat
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Global Policy Forum
Global Rights: Partners for Justice, USA
Gong Gam Human Rights Law Foundation, South Korea
Green Advocates International
Groupe de Recheche et de Plaidoyer sur les Industries Extractives ( GRPIE )
Gulf Civil Society Association Forum, Bahrein
Habi Center for Environmental Rights
Hadiza Mahaman/Centre Nigerien des Droits de l’Homme pour la Paix et le Developpement
HORIZONT3000 / Diego Santos-Santiago
Housing International Coalition (HIC)
HRD-Pilipinas (Philippines)
Human Dignity
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan – HRCP (Pakistan)
Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand
Human Rights Movement ‘Bir Duino – Kirgizstan’
Human Rights Online Philippines (Philippines)
ILSA – Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y un Derecho Alternativos
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La Comisión Nacional de los Derchos Humanos
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Lawyers without Borders
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Legal Resources Centre
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Mindanao Tripeople Women Resource Center (MTWRC), The Philippines
mines, minerals & PEOPLE
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PDHRE, People’s Movment for Human Rights Learning
People’s Health Movement
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Philippine Misereor Partneship Inc.
philippinenbuero e.V.
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Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)
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Salam Bahrain for Human Rights
SAVEGREEKWATER Initiative for the non privatization of water in Greece
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Share The World’s Resources
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Stop the Wall Campaign (Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign)
SUMPAY Mindanao, Inc., The Philippines
Taiwan Association for Human Rights
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The Network Stop Rönnbäck Nickel Mining Project in Ume river, Tärnaby, Sweden
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Traidcraft, UK
Transnational Institute
Universal Rights Network
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Vietnam Committee on Human Rights – VCHR (Vietnam)
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WomanHealth Philippines
Women’s Environment and Development Organization
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Netherlands
World Forum Of Fisher People (WFFP)
World March of Women
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
WUNRN – Women’s UN Report Network
YAC Nepal


For more information please visit http://www.treatymovement.com/

[Event] Bakit ang isyu sa Calumpit bridge ay isyu ng karapatan ng mga riders at karapatang pantao? By Lyndon Pangan

Bakit ang isyu sa Calumpit bridge ay isyu ng karapatan ng mga riders at karapatang pantao?
By Lyndon Pangan

isyu sa Calumpit Bridge

Una , ang kawalan ng kongkretong aksyon ng pamahalaan (partikular ang local na pamahalaan) sa daing ng mga riders na masolusyonan ang mahirap na kalagayan nila sa paglalakbay ay labag sa karapatan.
(Obligasyon ng gubyerno to “Respect, Protect, and Fulfill the Human Rights of the people)

Ang halos 150 pesos na bayad sa mapanganib na Bangka sa pagtawid sa ilog ay masakit sa bulsa ng mga manggagawang mananakay na sumasahod ng P336.00 kada araw (source: National Wages and Productivity Commission –Minimum Wage in Region 3) Halos kalahati ang nababawas na sa kanyang arawang sahod.

Ang alternate route na may layong humigit kumulang sa 24 kilometers ay dagdag gastos din sa gasolina at pagod sa araw araw na biyahe.

Halos isang taong (o higit pa yata) ganito ang kalagayan ng mga kapatid nating riders sa Bulacan at Pampanga habang ginagawa ang nasabing tulay sa bayan ng Calumpit. Hindi ko lubos maisip kung bakit natitiis ng pamahalaan na magdanas ang mga mananakay ng ganitong kalunus lunos na sitwasyon.

Ikalawa, opo ang konstruksyon ng tulay ay para sa karapatan ng mas nakararami ito ay “Right to Development” Ngunit ayon sa United Nations human rights principle, ang karapatan ay dapat INTERRELATED AT INTERDEPENDENT, ito rin ay dapat NON-DISCRIMINATORY. Tama lang na ayusin ang mga tulay sapagkat ito ay daan para sa kaunlaran, ngunit ang mali ay habang inaayos ito, may isang bahagi ng populasyon na nakakaranas ng kagipitan. Ito ay nagiging sagka sa karapatan ng mga riders na makapaglakbay ng maayos, at tulad nga ng nabanggit sa itaas, obligasyon ng gubyerno na siguruhin na hindi nalalabag ang karapatan na ito.

Ang panawagan at solusyon: Umaksyon ang pamahalaan upang maibsan ang kahirapang nararamdaman ng mga riders, pinatunayan na natin na delikado at hindi mainam ang kasalukuyang alternatiba. Lumikha ng paraan para magkaroon ng solusyon o alternatiba na abot-kaya, ligtas at aksesible para sa lahat. Nang sa gayon ay walang nalalabag na karapatan.


Sa Ika-30 ng Disyembre ako po bilang isang indibidwal na mananakay ng motorsiklo ay lalahok sa panawagan ng Bulacan Motorcycle Riders Federation (BMRF), ARANGKADA Riders Alliance at iba pang grupo na magsasagawa ng isang symbolic ride sa Bulacan. Maari po tayong magkita-kita (mga manggagaling ng NCR)sa Total Valenzuela Branch (Tapat ng SM) ganap na 11 ng umaga. Tutulak tayo patungo sa CALTEX-BSU sa Malolos (1pm call time dun). Upang sumama sa makasaysayang lakbay para sa KARAPATAN.

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[In the news] Don’t let Philippines become a ‘forgotten crisis’ – UN chief -InterAksyon.com

Don’t let Philippines become a ‘forgotten crisis’ – UN chief
By Agence France-Presse
December 22, 2013

MANILA – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on donor nations Sunday to ramp up aid to typhoon-battered Philippines as it grapples with a funding shortfall on the long road to recovery.

InterAksyon logo2

“We must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis,” Ban told reporters a day after touring the storm-ravaged city of Tacloban.

He said the UN had only achieved 30 percent of the $791 million in aid it had appealed for to boost relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last month.

Read full article @interaksyon.com

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[Statement] Paradigm shift for National Survival – now or never for the Philippines -FDC/PMCJ

Paradigm shift for National Survival 
– now or never for the Philippines

( Joint Statement of the Freedom from Debt Coalition ( FDC ) and the Philippine Movement for Climate Change ( PMCJ ) to the ADB Consultation with Civil Society on Strategy 2020 Midterm Review ,
December 9, 2013, at the ADB Building, Ortigas Business District )

The Asian Development Bank’s Strategy 2020 is a business-as-usual strategy for the Philippines. A Midterm Review that will only adjust in pace, scale and targets this Strategy will not mean anything significant in terms of wiping out poverty and unemployment, making the Philippines a prosperous contributor to regional development and enabling it to survive the onslaughts of climate change. With critical challenges coming from the global and regional scene and extreme ones from nature, the outcome may even be worse.


Inclusive growth without altering the high inequality in control and management of land, capital, technology and knowledge resources may only result at best in lessening the vast number of the unemployed and underemployed, reducing the scale of school dropouts at the basic levels and increasing the very limited number of young people who will get tertiary education, and improving the chances of the bottom poor, the lowest layers of the poor population to climb upward to join the rest of the poor.

This is the bitter lesson of the Philippine development experience of the past several decades. Having pursued a growth strategy that is anchored on the private sector- privatization, external markets and liberalizing its markets, and debts- the same features of ADB’s Strategy 2020, the Philippines continues to suffer one lost decade after another since the eighties of the previous century with jobless growth, high social and gender inequality, resilient poverty and the appearance of a basement poor, disappearance of many industries and agricultural stagnation, forced migration of the skilled and enterprising, and environmental degradation that worsens with climate change. The Philippines remains an economic laggard in the region with its agriculture and industry highly unprepared for the coming ASEAN regional integration in 2015.

After the Yolanda ( Haiyan ) devastation, the representatives of developing countries and many scientists and experts in the recently concluded 19thConference of Parties Meeting in Warsaw, Poland came out stronger than before in their resolve to push for a new order of the day – to radically veer away from the business as usual track and move towards a more ambitious and radical actions on emissions, adaptation, loss and damage, climate finance and technology transfer. More lives will be lost if the world does not act now.For the Philippines, at stake is national survival.

The ADB has continued its dirty energy funding history until today and will still pursue it under its new strategy. Even with the much publicized Clean Energy Program of the ADB, the Bank will still continue funding fossil fuel projects, which are heavy on coal and gas. In the Philippines alone, the ADB funded a total of 11 coal plants, most of which have been tested as emitting off the charts levels of mercury, arsenic and lead emissions that endanger the host communities and environments, aside from their millions of tons of carbon dioxide contributions.

The negative impacts of the recent ADB co-financed project with the KEXIM Bank, despite claims of using clean coal technology, otherwise known as circulating fluidized bed combustion technology he negative impacts are there for people to see and experience. The coal plant emits four times coal ashes compared to conventional coal plants. Also, according to official local health records, incidents of upper respiratory diseases and cancer have risen for the past two years since the inception of the coal plant.

Nothing less than a PARADIGM SHIFT in development is what the Philippines needs. A PARADIGM SHIFT now, today, not next week, not next year, let alone the next few years.

The Philippines must put disaster preparation and rehabilitation squarely and solidly within the context of adaptation and mitigation to overcome climate change. This should mean reshaping and upgrading our human settlements to make them defensible to assaults of floods, storm surges and landslides. This should mean a shift to sustainable farming and rural production systems to make agriculture and rural industry resilient to drought, typhoons, soil erosion, mineral depletion and chemical damage and river and water pollution. This should mean a shift to renewable energy to supply power to our industry, agriculture and services and to our households. This should mean redesigning and retooling our industries to make them produce more and efficiently but with reduced carbon emissions and without pollutants to our water systems.

The Philippines will need huge finances and resources here. Not from loans as the ADB and the World Bank have been quick to commit to our government. Unconditional grants, maybe, but not loans that will commit even the children and the young people whose families have lost everything, many even their parents and siblings along with with a heavily debt- burdened nation to pay in the next years to come. Our faith-based movements call this IMMORAL DEBTS.

Why loans when the Philippines has huge money that is owed itin the first place.That the Pilippinesmust claim apart from the money and resources that it can
generate on its own by reordering its economy and public finance. The Philippines must press harder along with the global climate justice movements and allied countries and governments for reparations from the super-rich capitalist countries which for centuries have damaged most the earth’s climate and natural resources. We must intensify our pressures on these governments, especially the US government, to comply with the United Nations principles and protocols on “common but differentiated responsibility“ for fighting climate change. JUSTICE DEMANDS DEBT CANCELLATION . CLIMATE JUSTICE CALLS FOR CLIMATE REPARATIONS .

The Philippines can also help raise the huge finances by abolishing all pork barrel – congressional, presidential and local, and rechanneling them to the pressing priorities of our times, including climate resiliency. This has to go side by side with instituting all measures to make the public finance system invulnerable as much as possible to corruption and waste. All those who stole public money must be held accountable and brought to justice and their their ill-gotten wealth recovered.

Governance for national survival needs the total mobilization and support of all our people. It cannot be done without redressing the poverty and the inequality that bedevil the lives of the great majority. A program for rebuilding our national economy to revive our industry and agriculture , make them serve along with services domestic needs first, correct inequalities, attain sustainability and cope up with climate change is central to national survival.

For the Philippines, this Paradigm shift is now or never.

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[Statement] The Right Not to be Disappeared: A Product of the Blood, Sweat and Tears of Victims and Families of Enforced Disappearances around the world -AFAD

The Right Not to be Disappeared: A Product of the Blood, Sweat and Tears of Victims and Families of Enforced Disappearances around the world

Sixty-five years ago, 48 member countries of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), recognizing “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”


The UDHR inspired many human rights activists and defenders around the world to fight for their human rights. One of such great legends was the revered Nelson Mandela, whose recent death brought back memories of his anti-apartheid struggle and his 27 years of imprisonment. His and the struggles of many women, men, girls and boys who were or have been human rights defenders before us further defined and sharpened the various aspects of human rights resulting in the crafting of specific human rights treaties and declarations.

Similarly, the families of victims of involuntary disappearances, undaunted by threats to their lives in the pursuit of justice for their disappeared loved ones lobbied with the international community for the UN to adopt a specific international treaty that would address the phenomenon of enforced disappearance. Initiated by Latin American organizations under Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos (FEDEFAM), other regional bodies were formed and became a potent lobby force. Their steadfastness bore fruit when the UN adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED) on 20 December 2006 and entered into force on 23 December 2010. This Convention declared a new right – the right not to be disappeared and States parties are duty bound to protect its citizens.

The above examples show that our human rights were not given to us in silver platter; rather, while inherent and inalienable, they are the fruit of the blood, sweat and tears of activists, defenders and freedom fighters around the world.

However, for the families of victims of enforced disappearance, the entry into force of ICPAPED is not a guarantee to end this heinous crime. In fact, men and women from different walks of life from around the world continue to be disappeared until today and only very few get punished. The government of Lao for example signed the Convention yet on 15 December 2012, it disappeared Sombath Somphone, a human rights defender and 2005 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for community leadership. He was last seen taken by the police after his car was stopped. Despite repeated calls from the international community and even the United Nations, the Lao government continues to deny its involvement even though recent reliable reports gathered by AFAD show otherwise.

The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) reported in January this year that there are 53,986 cases transmitted to its office since its inception in February 1980 where 42,889 cases from 84 States are in active consideration (have not yet been clarified, closed or discontinued). Here in the Philippines, the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) documented 1,838 victims of enforced disappearance where 436 surfaced alive, 256 found dead and 1,146 are still missing. This includes the high profile case of Jonas Burgos whose whereabouts are unknown till now. Fortunately for this case, an Army Officer is now facing trial. But for majority of the cases, there has been no progress in the relatives’ search for justice.

The continued search for their missing loved ones and their desire to end impunity encouraged the members of FIND and their allied organizations to lobby for a law criminalizing enforced disappearance. After 16 long years of indefatigable advocacy, President Benigno Aquino III signed RA 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, the first of such kind in Asia. Now the families are actively involved in fleshing out the contents of the Implementing Rules and Regulations especially in matters concerning restitution, compensation and guarantees of non-repetition among other substantial aspects of the law.

In the same manner in Indonesia, the relatives and friends of IKOHI and KontraS have long lobbied for their government to ratify the ICPAPED. Just last week, its foreign ministry and the Foreign Affairs Commission of the House of Representatives agreed to ratify it but delayed the ratification pending further discussions on some parts of the law.

In Latin America, especially in Argentina, the perseverance of the relatives, the commitment of its government to uphold human rights and the general attitude of its people in preserving the memories of the disappeared paved the way for the continued prosecution of perpetrators of the Dirty War in the 1970s which disappeared thousands of people (12,000 officially declared and 30,000 estimated to have been killed or disappeared).

“These are but some of the positive developments in the fight to end impunity,” says Mary Aileen Bacalso, Secretary-General of AFAD and this year’s Emilio Mignone International Human Rights Awardee. “The lessons of the past remind us to continuously defend our human rights, safeguard our gains and monitor the State’s implementation of international human rights laws and policies” she adds.

For Mugiyanto, AFAD Chairperson and himself a surfaced disaparecido, human rights continue to evolve in a complex and globalized world and the challenge is for all of us to continually deepen our understanding and practice of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of peoples not only in situations of armed conflicts and insurgencies but also within the context of large scale disasters and climate change.



Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City

Telefax: 00-632-4546759
Mobile: (63)917-792-4058
Website: http://www.afad-online.org

10 December 2013

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[Press Release] Group Declares Rampant Mercury Use and Trade a Threat to People’s Right to Health and Life -BAN Toxics

Group Declares Rampant Mercury Use and Trade a Threat to People’s Right to Health and Life

Quezon City, Philippines — On Human Rights Day, environmental justice group BAN Toxics stresses the protection of people’s right to life as it reiterates their call to phase out mercury use and trade.


“As the world observes International Human Rights day today, we urge all nations to curb the threats against the people’s basic human right to health and life by stopping mercury pollution by rapidly ratifying the Minamata treaty and taking immediate measures to meet the requirement of the treaty,” says BAN Toxics Executive Director Atty. Richard Gutierrez.

Exactly two months ago, the Minamata treaty was signed and adopted by different nations including the Philippines. The treaty is an internationally binding legal instrument that aims to protect human health and the environment from the adverse impacts of mercury and mercury compounds.

The group raises alarm over the seemingly high exposure of the Filipino family to mercury. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) national inventory of mercury the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector emits an estimated 70 tons of mercury in the environment annually. It may be recalled that in 2006, a report by the United Nations stated that Filipino miners have mercury levels 50 times higher than WHO limits.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is persistent in the environment. From a number of historical pollution disasters it has been established that psychiatric symptoms, brain damage and kidney damage are some of the serious health consequences of exposure to high levels of mercury, but it is also well-documented that even tiny dosages affect the intellectual and physical performance of children when exposed in utero.

Women and children are most vulnerable to the ill-effects of mercury exposure. In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the WHO confirmed that mercury is a human carcinogen.

Aside from that, statistics from the United Nations COMTRADE, a global database on trade of commodities, for the period 2007-2011 shows that the Philippines imported more than 65,000 kilograms of inorganic and organic compounds of toxic metals,including dental amalgams which are composed of 50% mercury (BAN Toxics, 2012).

“Mercury is a poison that impacts not just the health of those that use, but also and unjustly a larger portion of the population,” add Gutierrez.

In this light, BAN Toxics urges the government to accelerate its effort towards the elimination of mercury through the strict and steadfast implementation of the Minamata treaty.

BAN Toxics! is an independent non-government environmental organization focused on the advancement of environmental justice, children’s health, and toxics elimination. Working closely with government agencies, partner communities and other NGOs in both the local and international levels, BAN Toxics endeavors to reduce and eliminate the use of harmful toxins through education campaigns, training and awareness-raising, and policy-building and advocacy programs.

December 10, 2013
Angelica Carballo-Pago
Communications and Media Officer, BAN Toxics!
(02) 355-7640 | (+63) 915-9260-371
angelica@bantoxics.org | info@bantoxics.org

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[Press Release] EU supports human rights groups to protect human rights defenders

EU supports human rights groups to protect human rights defenders

The European Union (EU) provides financial support to two national human rights groups namely the Medical Action Group (MAG) and the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) worth Php 25 million in their work for the protection of human rights defenders and in their fight against impunity in the Philippines.


On December 10, during the celebration of 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 14th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, MAG and TFDP announces a 3-year project supported by the EU to provide support for and strengthen protection of human rights defenders and their families.

Dubbed “Use of Evidence Based Approach to Human Rights Documentation and Monitoring for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and their Families, and in the Fight Against Impunity”, the project will be implemented by MAG and TFDP. A key component in engendering this approach is the use of evidence based approach to human rights documentation and monitoring for the protection of human rights defenders at risk and their families.

Protection and supporting human rights defenders is a “long established element of the EU’s human rights policy” and has long been a priority for the EU. The main international instrument on human rights defenders is the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/declaration.htm Likewise, the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/16332-re01.en08.pdf which “provide for interventions by the Union for human rights defenders at risk and suggest practical means of supporting and assisting human rights defenders.”

The Declaration defines a human rights defender as anyone who, individually or with others, working for the promotion and protection of human rights. At present, one of the issues facing human rights defenders is that they are often perceived by the government as, among others, “enemies of the State”, “terrorists” and “members of armed groups”.

This project aims to provide support for human rights defenders so that they can work safely and effectively, free from intimidation and reprisals. Likewise, the project will be implemented in key provinces/cities in the Philippines where human rights violations are rampant, and where human rights defenders have become targets of rights violations themselves by authorities, mining corporations and private landowners because of their work in exposing human rights abuses and support victims of human rights violations to seek redress.

The project has several major components: documentation and reporting of human rights violations cases; supporting human rights defenders and their families; legal action; capacity building; education and; advocacy and lobby.
For more information, please contact:

Jerbert M. Briola, Project Officer
Medical Action Group
129-D Matatag Street, Barangay Central, Quezon City
Mobile phone no. +63915-9629237
E-mail address: mag.1982@magph.org

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[People] The human face of Philippine poverty. By Fr. Shay Cullen

The human face of Philippine poverty
By Fr. Shay Cullen

Reggie is the human face of poverty in the Philippines. He and his family lived on the edge of total poverty until typhoon Haiyan pushed him and his family into absolute poverty this November 2013. He is a 17 year-old jobless youth whose home was taken away by the 245 kilometer per hour wind. Then, his dignity was taken away by human traffickers who forced him and six other youth from Cebu into unpaid labor on a fishing boat and then abandoned them hungry and unpaid. Then he sunk into even greater poverty when his freedom and human rights were taken from him by the authorities when they jailed him for being a vagrant. He was rescued from illegal imprisonment recently.


But the one image that haunts me is that of Edgar. One of the poorest of the poor and typical of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos is Edgar, a street boy, skinny, emaciated skeletal, the human no one wants to look at. He was found wounded on the street. He had in his possession one pair of shorts to cover his otherwise naked body. He had nothing else in this world. A reality so shocking where the obese are more numerous than the 1.2 billion poor that live on less than US$2 a day.

The Philippines, with its towering condominiums, wealth and opulence of the ruling elite is the poorest nation of Asia for its population size. It is the one country that has not made progress in reducing poverty unlike other Asian countries despite economic growth that only benefits the rich.

There are 29 million Filipinos living below the poverty line based on figures released by the government statistics office. The population is more or less 105 million and 27.9 percent in 2013 are living below the poverty line. This is almost the same as it was four to seven years ago. Walden Bello in his writings Afterthoughts says that the rest of the world has made great improvement since 2005 to 2008 in reducing poverty as the World Bank declared, “The progress is so drastic that the world has met the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half, five years before its 2015 deadline.”

The Philippines has not made any such strides and the roots of poverty are found in the concentration of economic and fiscal power in the hands of a few powerful families. Debt is a tool of control. Getting poor countries into debt was a deliberate policy by rich nations to have economic and political influence over developing nations by ensnaring them in webs of foreign debt administered by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Other developing nations began to resist the power and control that the developed nations exercised over them by the chains of debt.

The worldwide campaign to cancel debt succeeded in exposing this tactic and nations refused to pay or had it restructured and changed economic policy for one that gave real freedom and growth that favoured the poor. But the Philippine elite, forever subservient, made debt servicing their obedient obligation. This slavery to the debt masters consumes as much as twenty five percent of the national budget leaving little for other investments in infrastructure and rural development where the majority of the poor live.

The Philippines has remained enmeshed in the debt trap and makes no effort to throw it off. The Philippine government and their backers are clinging to an economic ideology that allows multinationals to exploit the economy and natural resources and makes them all richer and the rest of the nation poorer. The Philippine Congress passed mining laws for example, that gave the international mining corporations unprecedented privileges that many claim are unconstitutional. They destroy the environment with open pit excavations, cut forests causing landslides and disasters and entire villages and communities are uprooted and driven into poverty. Last week, truck loads of fresh cut forest logs came from Tangub, in Northern Mindanao heading for Molave. More evidence of this very corrupt practice going on in public view.

The poor are driven from the impoverished countryside to urban slums where their children, some as young as 13 years old end up in the sex trade exploited by local and foreign sex tourists with government leaders allowing it and profiting from the outrage. Tourism is more fun in the Philippines, they say.

Poverty is allowed to grow by the greed of the dynastic families that hold a monopoly of political power backed by the military. They passed laws that allowed members of Congress to have huge lump sums of money from the national treasury for their so-called projects in their constituencies. However, most of it was siphoned off into their private accounts through fake projects. The scandal has dominated the headlines for months as one sordid revelation of corruption at the highest levels follows another.

Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to meet the UN millennium goals to reduce poverty, the government has been implementing the Conditional Cash Transfer Program. This hand out project, despite its shortcomings, is helping to prevent poor urban families from falling into abject poverty. It’s a temporary life jacket to keep them afloat in an ocean of deprivation and hunger. What is needed is a pro-poor economic policy change that will put job creation for the poor and land distribution (with support), at the center of economic policy.

This will help create a strong lower and middle class with spending power that will, in turn, create more employment. The wealth will be distributed instead of concentrating among a few at the top. The Philippines will remain among the most backward and poorest of nations unless there’s a dedicated pro-poor government in power and that is not likely in the foreseeable future.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Resources] New Practical Guide for civil society on follow up on human rights recommendations-OHCHR

New Practical Guide for civil society on follow up on human rights recommendations
Launch in Geneva on 29 November 2013

How to ff up UN recom

The Guide describes methods and activities that civil society actors can use to promote the implementation of human rights recommendations as well as existing follow-up procedures and practices of UN human rights mechanisms and how civil society can participate.

Complemented by real experiences contributed by civil society actors and OHCHR field presences, the Guide offers a menu of options from which civil society actors can select on the basis of their own priorities and capacity.

The Guide is being translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. We will share translations once available in the coming weeks.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights will launch the Guide in an event in Geneva. The launch will take place on Friday 29 Novemberin Palais des Nations, room XXIII, Geneva.

Download guide from www.ohchr.org

Best regards,

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. +41 (0) 22 – 917 – 9656

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[From the web] “Its time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks -www.rtcc.org

“Its time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks.

Photo extracted from www.rtcc.org

Photo extracted from http://www.rtcc.org

Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano has just addressed the opening session of the UN climate summit in Warsaw – calling for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit parts of his country at the weekend. A full transcript of his speech is below.


Mr. President, I have the honor to speak on behalf of the resilient people of the Republic of the Philippines.

At the onset, allow me to fully associate my delegation with the statement made by the distinguished Ambassador of the Republic of Fiji, on behalf of G77 and China as well as the statement made by Nicaragua on behalf of the Like-Minded Developing Countries.

First and foremost, the people of the Philippines, and our delegation here for the United Nations Climate Change Convention’s 19th Conference of the Parties here in Warsaw, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your expression of sympathy to my country in the face of this national difficulty.

Read full article @www.rtcc.org

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[Solidarity] BANGLADESH: Alarming escalation of threats to human rights defenders -The Observatory

BANGLADESH: Alarming escalation of threats to human rights defenders

Publication of an international fact-finding mission report

Paris-Geneva, November 9, 2013 -As two members of prominent human rights NGO Odhikar will face trial tomorrow in Dhaka in relation to their human rights activities, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, publishes today an international mission report on the situation of human rights defenders in Bangladesh.


In Bangladesh, the authorities resort to a legal arsenal and restrictive practices to prosecute and pressure human rights defenders, who face physical attacks, arbitrary detention and judicial harassment.

“NGO activists, lawyers, journalists and trade unionists trying to defend the victims of human rights violations remain inadequately protected and suffer repression for carrying out legitimate activities under international law”, said Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “ Presently, two members of Odhikar, a respected human rights NGO, are facing judicial harassment for publishing a report on police repression ”, he added.

Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar and a member of the General Assembly of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), whose trial will resume tomorrow, was detained from August 10 to October 11, 2013. Mr. Nasiruddin Elan, Director of Odhikar, was sent to prison on November 6. Both have been harassed after Odhikar published a report on the repression of a demonstration of fundamentalists by the police last May.

In Bangladesh, the political atmosphere is fundamentally polarised, and the situation is becoming increasingly tensed in the lead-up to the general elections due to take place before the end of January 2014.

“We are alarmed over the present situation and the risk of further repression of human rights defenders in the upcoming pre-election context. Human rights work is in the inherent interest of any nation, no matter who the victim may be. This voice needs to be heard even in times of political tension”, declared Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of OMCT. “There is a heavy burden on all actors, State authorities, political parties and the media alike, to withstand the temptation of labelling human rights defenders as pro-government or anti-government, depending on whom they criticise or which party is in power”, he added.

The trade union environment is also generally polarised along party lines, and the few independent unions that exist face obstacles to their work, including daily harassment by the authorities. The enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killing of labour leader and human rights defender Aminul Islam in 2012 reminded the international community and human rights defenders on the ground how risky independent labour rights activities could be in Bangladesh. Authorities failed to launch any effective investigation about his assassination.

The Observatory concludes that as long as corruption is not curbed, and in the absence of a peaceful and constructive political environment, of legislation promoting human rights and of an independent judiciary, abuses of power and arbitrary practices will continue. These make the exercise of fundamental freedoms more difficult, hinder the strengthening of an independent civil society, and maintain human rights defenders in the trap of a disabling environment.

The Observatory Mission Report, titled “Human rights defenders trapped in a polarised political environment ”, outlines recommendations to the Bangladeshi authorities, the United Nations, the European Union and other foreign diplomacies. The report is available here:

Click to access obs_rapportbangladeshuk-ld.pdf

Click to access bangladesh_obs_mission_report.pdf

For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Audrey Couprie/Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 25 18
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39


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[Appeal] Open Letter to candidates to the (U.N.) Human Rights Council

UNHRC file photo source indiadaily.org


Open Letter to candidates to the Human Rights Council








We are a diverse group of nongovernmental organisations from all parts of the world who have
contributed to the Human Rights Council (the Council) and its work since its establishment. We
write to you regarding your candidacy for membership of the Council.





UNHRC file photo source indiadaily.org

UNHRC. file photo source indiadaily.org




In establishing the Council in 2006, the General Assembly provided that Council members “shall
uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “fully
cooperate with the Council” (GA Resolution 60/251).




We are concerned about the clear failure of some candidates to fully comply with these criteria.
Failure by Council members to take effective measures to address violations of human rights for
which they are responsible, particularly of a gross or systematic nature, or to fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms undermines the ability of the Council to promote and protect
human rights and to demand full state cooperation with its mechanisms. While this letter focuses
on three important requirements that help measure candidate’s suitability as a Human Rights
Council member, a more detailed assessment of each candidate’s record in the promotion and
protection of human rights and cooperation with the Human Rights Council must be made on a
case-by-case basis by members of the General Assembly before they cast their votes. This
should also include consideration of the level of ratification of core international human rights




We are also concerned at the failure of some candidates to respect and support the important
role played by civil society, non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders in the
promotion and protection of human rights at the national and international levels, including in the Council (Article 38 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, GA Resolution 60/251
and the Human Rights Council’s Institution Building Package).




We expand on each of these areas of concern below.




Cooperation with Special Procedures




As a candidate, it is incumbent on every State to set an example by cooperating fully with the
Council’s human rights mechanisms, in particular by:




1. Issuing and honouring an effective standing invitation to the Special Procedures. This
requires responding promptly to all requests for visits by providing one or more sets of
specific possible dates within two months, and facilitating such visits in accordance with the
Terms of Reference on Fact-finding Missions by Special Procedures.




2. Acting responsibly and respectfully in relations with Special Procedures and refraining from all attempts, by word or action, to interfere with the independence of mandate holders or to
otherwise undermine their work;




3. Regularly providing information to the Special Procedures and to the Human Rights Council
on how the recommendations arising from country visits have been implemented, and any
obstacles to implementation;




4. Responding promptly and substantively to urgent appeals and to letters of allegations by
Special Procedures, taking into account the urgency of the communication; and




5. Supporting the creation of a mechanism to review and assess, on an annual basis, the
degree of cooperation with the Council and the Special Procedures, both in relation to Council
members and candidates for Council membership.




Reprisals and intimidation




We are also gravely concerned about acts of intimidation and reprisals against individuals and
groups who seek to cooperate, have cooperated, or cooperate with the UN human rights system,
including the Council, as well as against relatives of victims of human rights violations or those who have provided legal or other assistance to victims. Such intimidation or reprisals may take the form of smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, prosecutions, direct threats, physical attacks and killings.




As the Council depends heavily on the free and safe cooperation of human rights defenders for
its effective functioning, it has a concomitant duty to prevent and immediately respond to threats and reprisals against those who cooperate with it. The Council took a significant step at its 24th session to safeguard the vital collaboration between human rights defenders and the UN rights mechanisms through the call for the creation of a senior focal point to work to prevent, protect against and seek accountability for reprisals and intimidation against persons who cooperate with the United Nations (HRC/RES/24/24). While we welcome this development, ending reprisals and intimidation requires continued action and responses by all stakeholders. In particular, each candidate should:




1. Cooperate fully with the focal point once established;
2. Take positive steps to facilitate safe and unimpeded access to the UN human rights
mechanisms by all individuals and groups, and in particular human rights defenders;
3. Take all necessary measures to prevent intimidation and reprisals against human rights
defenders and take appropriate action to provide remedies for all acts of intimidation and
4. Inform the Council through its President and on an ongoing basis of steps taken to protect
individuals mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report on reprisals and to provide remedies,
reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence;
5. Support recent initiatives by the President of the Council calling on States to immediately put
an end to intimidation and harassment of individuals and groups cooperating or seeking to
cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms;
6. Commit to and call for enhanced monitoring and action by the Council. Consider the
development of an online and regularly updated registry of allegations of intimidation and
reprisals, as proposed by several of the panellists during the Council’s panel on reprisals;
7. Maintain pressure on States that commit or tolerate reprisals, including by using bilateral and multilateral dialogue to raise cases of intimidation or reprisals as documented in the
Secretary-General’s report and discussing follow-up;
8. Prioritise protection for all human rights defenders including those who cooperate with the
UN, through missions in Geneva and embassies around the world. This should be done in close coordination with all stakeholders involved in protecting human rights defenders,
including the UN, regional and national actors;
9. Consider establishing focal points at the national level to address acts of intimidation and
10. Review and where necessary change legislation, policies and practices that have the effect of
undermining unhindered access to and communication with international human rights bodies
and mechanisms and avoid adopting any such new legislation; and
11. Prevent the occurrence of intimidation or reprisals, including, where necessary, by developing and implementing specific legislation and policies and by issuing appropriate guidance to national authorities.




Respect for effective civil society participation




Human rights defenders and independent civil society play a critical role in promoting human
rights, development and the rule of law (HRC/RES/24/21) and related accountability measures.
Free and vibrant civil society participation at all levels is therefore essential, including at the local, national, regional and international levels. This implies that each candidate should:




1. Ensure that domestic legal and administrative provisions and their application facilitate,
promote and protect an independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society; and
2. Support the full and effective participation of civil society in the work of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council in particular, including by guaranteeing right of everyone,
individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with
the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms.
Your Excellency, we urge you to consider the above mentioned elements in the pursuit of your
country’s candidacy for membership on the Human Rights Council and would very much welcome
your response to these recommendations at your earliest convenience.




Yours sincerely,
Philip Lynch
Director – International Service for Human Rights




On behalf of
1. Action Canada for Population and Development
2. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies
3. Amnesty International
4. ARC International
5. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
7. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
8. Center for Reproductive Rights
9. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
10. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
11. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
12. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
13. Fondazione Marista per la Solidarieta Internazionale ONLUS
14. Franciscans International
15. Front Line Defenders
17. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
18. Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
19. Human Rights Watch
20. International Association for Catholic Education
21. International Catholic Child Bureau
22. International Commission of Jurists
23. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
24. International Federation of University Women (IFUW)
25. International Lesbian and Gay Association
26. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
27. International Service for Human Rights
29. Lutheran World Federation
30. Matrix Support Group
31. Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
32. Pax Christi International
33. Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO
34. Public Union of Democracy and Human Rights Resource Centre
35. Rainbow-Ethiopia HIV and Media Initiative (REHMI)
36. Red Nacional de Promoción de la Mujer, RNPM-Perú
37. Russian Research Center for Human Rights
38. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights
39. World Federation of United Nations Associations
40. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)




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[Press Release] More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights –

More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights

NEW YORK / GENEVA (29 October 2013) – States and businesses need to do more to tackle and prevent the violation of indigenous peoples’ human rights as a result of business-related activities, a United Nations independent expert body has said.

Pavel Sulyandziga. Photo from en.wikipedia.org

Pavel Sulyandziga. Photo from en.wikipedia.org

“Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Mr. Sulyandziga presented yesterday the UN Working Group’s first thematic report*, which explores the challenges faced in addressing the adverse effects of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights, to the UN General Assembly in New York.

“Negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services,” the expert noted.

“There are challenges involving land use and ownership, and also displacement through forced or economic resettlement. Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk,” Mr. Sulyandziga said. “Indigenous peoples are also often excluded from agreements and decision-making processes that irrevocably affect their lives.”

The Working Group’s report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems.

“We call on States and business enterprises to increase their efforts to implement the Guiding Principles. This includes the State’s duty to protect indigenous peoples against business-related human rights abuses and corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and where abuses have occurred, to ensure people can have effective remedy,” said Mr. Sulyandziga.

The expert urged interested parties to register for the second annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on 2-4 December 2013.

“It will be an opportunity to discuss challenges in implementing the Guiding Principles, in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, including indigenous peoples. It will also be a chance to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” Mr. Sulyandziga said.

(*) Read the report of the Working Group to the General Assembly:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Reports.aspx

via More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights.

Read more @taomunahindimina.wordpress.com

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[In the news] Q and A: What PH can learn from global Internet debate-RAPPLER.com

Q and A: What PH can learn from global Internet debate
By Ayee Macaraig
October 28, 2013

Filipino netizens successfully campaigned to stop the implementation of the anti-cybercrime law, but what next?

Filipino delegates to a global Internet forum actively participated in discussions on the future of the Internet, emphasizing that there is more work to be done to maintain the Philippines’ record of having one of the freest Internet in the world.


Nica Dumlao of the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) and blogger Juned Sonido of Democracy.Net.PH represented Philippine civil society in the United Nations’ 8th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held here from October 22 to 25. FMA belongs to the steering committee of the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance. Sonido was part of the delegation of Freedom House, a US-based non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting free institutions worldwide.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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