Tag Archives: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

[Statement] JOINT STATEMENT OF the 2nd ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People Forum (ACSC/APF) 2012 Phnom Penh, 16 November 2012

JOINT STATEMENT OF the 2nd ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People Forum (ACSC/APF) 2012
Phnom Penh, 16 November 2012

Preamble

The ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People‟s Forum (ACSC/APF) 2012 took place on the 14-16 November 2012. The event, attended by over 500 delegates, included not only participants from ASEAN member states but also representatives invited from African Union, European Union and a delegation from the USA.

A key discussion that took place over the course of the event was ASEAN member states‟ failure to produce an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration that matches or even exceeds existing international human rights standards. As such, we the delegates of the ACSC/APF, refuse to endorse the Declaration and instead, will continue to use standards set in international human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to measure progress in the region.

ASEAN professes to be people-centered, however, the conduct of the Cambodian government in response to ACSC/APF has demonstrated that this principle has not been translated into action. As a result of intimidation by Cambodian authorities, two venue hosts reneged their agreements, in an attempt to curtail the constitutionally-guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

ASEAN member states, in particular, those that do not currently hold elections, must commit to periodic free and fair elections with the presence of both citizen observers and international observers. Only then can we begin to fulfill ASEAN‟s potential to promote good governance, democracy and rule of law.

ASEAN is not just made up of governments but the people they serve. We the people take this role very seriously, because it affects our lives and the lives of future generations. Realizing the objectives laid out in the ASEAN Economic Blueprint has been the priority of ASEAN, which has been moving ahead with little regard to the citizens who will be most affected by it. ASEAN needs to open space, including genuine freedom of association and speech, for citizens to participate, take ownership and lessen the impact of negative consequences. ASEAN must embrace the key principles of the respect for human rights and the international human rights standards that all ASEAN countries adhere to. Sustainable and equitable economic development will only be achieved if ASEAN transforms into a genuinely people-centered community. That is why we are here today. Therefore we urge the adoption of the following recommendations:

ECONOMICS AND ENVIRONMENT

Food security, land and ocean grabbing
Ocean Grabbing and Food Sovereignty

The dominant model of development for economic growth has led to an agricultural crisis and natural disaster in developing countries due to lax natural resource management and the lack of sustainable development principles.. Local producers are threatened by unfair competition from imports. Land and ocean grabbing is likely to increase with ASEAN economic integration in 2015.
The 90 million workers in the fishing industry remain among the most poorly remunerated workers in the production sectors. National policies, such as large-scale subsidies, favor big vessel operators and fishpond owners. Privatization of coastal resources worsens the trend towards resource grabbing. Furthermore, poor enforcement of fishery laws and corruption within implementing agencies has led to the rise of illegal fishing.

These trends have not only threatened the livelihoods of poor fishers in the region but also led to massive over-fishing and destruction of water bodies such as lakes, rivers, mangroves and coastal resources.

In view of this, we call for the following:

1. Review the economic model being pursued by ASEAN which emphasizes more trade liberalization and increased investment by corporations in the fishery, coastal and agriculture resource industries. ASEAN should consider pursuing a model which protects and recognises the resource rights of vulnerable farmers and fishers.

2. Stop land, ocean and other resource grabbing in the region. ASEAN and national governments should adopt regional agreements and policies that reduce widespread private investment in and privatization of land, coastal, freshwater and fishery bodies;

3. For the governments of ASEAN member states to adopt policies that give farmers and fishers secure tenure, ownership, control and management of their land, freshwater and coastal/fishery resources.

4. For all fishers to be able to participate actively and substantially in decision-making in agriculture and fishery policies and specifically in the negotiations of the Food and Agriculture Organization instrument on fishery resource access, including the Fishers Code of Conduct.

5. For the governments of ASEAN member states to support programs of community management of coastal, freshwater and other fishery resources.

Natural Resources
Extractive Industry

Revenue from extractive industries is the foundation for the development of the economy and the huge driver toward poverty alleviation of the ASEAN member states. Extractive industries, if accountably and transparently managed, can avoid the so-called resource curse. It is of great importance that civil society organisations (CSOs) are given enough space for public engagement in the development of the extractive industry‟s legal framework to help promote just, accountable and inclusive policies. CSOs are relentlessly campaigning for ASEAN countries to adopt the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Recommendations:

1. ASEAN member states should adopt the EITI;
2. ASEAN should create a legal framework on extractive industries;
3. All ASEAN member states should adopt access-to-information laws;
4. Develop multi-stakeholders mechanism to promote good governance and transparency in extractive industries and natural resource management.
5. Guarantee transparency through frequent, perhaps monthly, financial and progress reports by the extractive industry.
6. To ensure transparency in oil, gas and mining revenues, countries should develop and adopt a legal framework and policy for domestic and international investment companies.

ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint and Regional Integration and its Implication for Women from a Gender Perspective

Many ASEAN documents state that the three ASEAN pillars must be viewed as “closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing”. In fact, the contrary is true. The pillars have been formulated in isolation without consideration of their collective impact. The political emphasis has been on the economic community/blueprints, which pose huge threats to people‟s access to their means of subsistence. Without mechanisms to include serious participation by its people, ASEAN can expect increasing violations of fundamental human rights, women‟s rights, environmental sustainability, social injustice and gender injustice and inequality.

We recommend ASEAN member states adopt mechanisms to:

1. Ensure that the voices of those affected are integrated into the collective policy of the ASEAN communities.
2. Ensure all measures and policies of member states protect human rights, women‟s rights, indigenous people‟s rights and the rights of marginalized and vulnerable peoples.
3. Uphold the principle of non-discrimination for age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, class, nationality, religion, ability or any other distinction.
4. Adopt the ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, which protects all migrant workers, skilled and unskilled, documented and undocumented, and their families.
5. Ensure that economic and investment policies do not result in land grabbing that uproots lives, especially those of women and the marginalized, through forced eviction and involuntary resettlement.
6. Provide effective remedies for violence against women. Protect sexual and reproductive rights, the right to a healthy environment and other rights guaranteed by international treaties and standards.
7. Ensure that women are involved in all levels of decision-making nationally and internationally.
8. Adopt and ratify the ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers.
9. Guard against extensions of intellectual property rights in national or regional trade agreements that restrict access to medicines and undermine public health.

Trade Unions, Labor Rights and Workers
Labor Trend on ASEAN

The labor issue in the ASEAN region has become an increasing priority due to the upcoming economic integration in 2015. There has been significant movement of workers from developing member states of ASEAN to the more developed states. There are three main points in relation to labor issues that needed to be considered by ASEAN and its constituent members, and upon which we have based recommendations:

Recommendations:
1. Protect workers’ rights in ASEAN
 Ensure decent salaries for workers and employees;
 Ensure occupational safety protection for workers in construction and other sectors;
 Workers should work no longer than 8 hours a day and 5 days a week.
 Ensure the rights of trade unions to be able to negotiate collectively
 Reduce the prevalence of short term contracts and sub-contractors
 Ensure migrant workers are protected by relevant laws and related agencies.
2. Implement a mechanism to ensure risk prevention and prevent other related violations against employees and migrant workers
 The promulgation of a new labor law within ASEAN;
 The implementation of policy, legal framework and others mechanisms in relation to this topic.
 All ASEAN member states must adopt a Memorandum of Understanding to protect migrant workers who work within their countries.
 ASEAN member states must guarantee the rights of migrant women, including marriage migrants, and put in place mechanisms to ensure women‟s empowerment.
 ASEAN member states must include protection mechanisms for women and families abandoned by migrant workers.
3. The creation of a legal framework within ASEAN
 Set up a transparency committee, sector, and adopt a transparent approach to all sectors;
 Create a national and regional migration protection law to ensure the safety of migrants; and
 Provide a mechanism for the people of ASEAN members to raise concerns within the region in relation to labor issues.

SOCIAL-CULTURAL
Labor and sex trafficking
Modern-day slavery in and from ASEAN

Human trafficking within and from ASEAN remains a serious problem. Laws, policies, and practices by ASEAN member states often fail to protect millions of migrant workers, and often contribute to or are complicit in their enslavement, facilitating brokers, recruitment agents, labor export companies, outsourcing companies and unscrupulous employers to profit from the exploitation of migrant workers both in sending and receiving countries.

Notwithstanding efforts by civil society to highlight these cases to national governments for further action, these perpetrators continue their exploitative practices with impunity. The coordination between national ministries and across ASEAN member states to work collaboratively and in a coordinated manner is inadequate and sometimes even exacerbates the problem by detaining and/or otherwise punishing the victims – sex trafficking victims as well as workers who have been held in debt bondage or slave-like conditions – rather than the perpetrators.

Although ASEAN member states earn profits in the billions of US Dollars from facilitation of migration, both from recruitment fees, levies and other government charges and from labor that sustains their national economies, ASEAN member states demonstrate a high degree of reluctance to provide sufficient resources towards combatting human trafficking in the areas of prevention, protection and prosecution of this trans-national crime.

We recommend that ASEAN member states:

1. Enact national anti-trafficking-in-persons laws and policies that meet international standards including the Palermo Protocol;
2. Provide sufficient resources for the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of perpetrators, especially in cases where such perpetrators are corrupt government officials or their accomplices;
3. Discontinue labor export and recruitment policies and practices that facilitate human trafficking;
4. Engage with and provide resources for CSOs to provide services and protection for victims of sex trafficking as well as workers who have been held in debt bondage or slave-like conditions (labor trafficking);
5. Enact immigration and labor laws that provide victims, especially migrant workers, with the right to reside and work legally until such time as they are willing and able to be repatriated safely;
6. Embark upon robust nation-wide campaigns to bring awareness about human trafficking, targeting factors that are likely to lead potential victims into trafficking as well as prejudicial and stereotypical views about migrant workers;
7. ASEAN should ensure that both sending and receiving countries be held jointly responsible to promote and uphold the rights of women migrants of due recognition to their contribution to the respective countries‟ development.

Human Rights
A Review of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

The review of the Terms of Reference of AICHR process in 2014 under Myanmar‟s chairmanship will provide an opportunity to identify challenges and opportunities and a plan for the future. Civil society organizations and others want ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to evolve into a credible, independent, responsive and accessible regional human rights mechanism in ASEAN.

Recommendations:

1. There should be more transparency in the recruitment for AICHR. To reflect this transparency, the term inter-governmental within AICHR should be changed to independent. Principles of the TOR concerning non-interference and sovereignty should be changed. The principle of impartiality should be adopted.
2. AICHR needs to have a human rights protection mechanism, as well as a mechanism to engage all relevant stakeholders, in particular CSOs, in ASEAN.
3. CSOs need to have a clear idea of what AICHR should achieve in the next three years and bring it to the attention of the foreign ministers of each member state.
4. CSOs need to be more creative about how they lobby for change. AICHR must increase public awareness so that everyone in the region understands its role.

Indigenous and ethnic minority and human rights
IP/EM in ASEAN community: Promote and Protect rights to Land, Territory, Natural Resources and Development of IP/EM

The Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities (IPs&EM) in the ASEAN community are distinct peoples with their own unique identity. They call on member states to recognize their rights through the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other international instruments. They have a right to free, prior and informed consent on any laws, policies, and programs that affect their communities and nations. Their right to customary laws and self-governance should be respected in relation to sustainable management of lands, territories and resources.

Recommendations:

1. ASEAN member states should establish and reinforce effective redress mechanisms and access to justice for damages from past and current projects in which indigenous peoples were not consulted. This should include legal pluralism approaches rooted in traditional cultures
2. Local, national and regional governments should establish mechanisms by indigenous peoples participate in all decision-making processes including in matter of governance of state.
3. ASEAN member states need to ratify and immediately implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and International Labor Organization Convention 169. They must reviewing and repealing national laws and policies that discriminate against IPs&EM.
4. Each member state should immediately implement its Universal Periodic Review recommendations regarding IPs&EM. In the second cycle, IPs&EM should be included in preparation of the state report as key stakeholders. States should also accept recommendations relating to IPs&EM.
5. To build an ASEAN community by 2015 that is consistent with UNDRIP, member states should designate an indigenous peoples focal person within the AICHR to set up a working group for the respect, promotion and protection of indigenous peoples.

Sex Worker Rights
Sex worker-ASEAN

ASEAN plans to promote tourism in its member states. Despite their important contribution to this industry, the region‟s 1.2 million sex workers remain undervalued. They encounter serious and systematic discrimination in the application of immigration law. Because their work is criminalized, they are denied visas, work permits and all other protections and benefits that are applied to recognized workers, forcing them to deal with the risks of extortion and exploitation. Contrary to ASEAN‟s stated obligations, sex workers are routinely denied the legal protection and benefits offered to others. Corrupt police and other authorities systematically exploit, coerce and abuse the basic human rights of sex workers with impunity. Economic, religious and cultural considerations continue to hinder public health programs to fight AIDS, so the infection rate remains unacceptably high in the sex worker community.

Sex workers call on ASEAN governments to:
1. Guarantee that all ASEAN peoples can migrate and travel safely, with equal access to services including health and legal services, regardless of occupation. This must include an end to discriminatory immigration policies and practices that restrict the movement of sex workers.
2. Ensure sex workers receive equal protection and benefits under the law; and freedom from abuse by police and other state and non-state actors, including religious bodies.
3. Reform public health programming to provide sex workers with the highest standards of health services, especially HIV prevention.
4. The ASEAN Tourism Plan proposes to offer education and skills to tourism workers. Sex workers call on ASEAN Tourism Ministers Committee to create a fund available to sex workers and their organizations for education, skill training and other opportunities for other non-direct sex-related vocations.

LGBT Rights

Inclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) issues and Rights in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ASCS)/ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) and in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transexual, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) persons have documented and explicitly presented evidence of extensive human rights violations that occur throughout the ASEAN region. Hence they are incensed by the exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in the draft of ASEAN‟s Human Rights Declaration. It is a blatant manifestation of discrimination against LBGTIQ persons. The LGBTIQ movement will never accept discrimination, abuse and violence as part of their existence by the denial of their rights and their humanity.

It is in this spirit of pride and dignity that we reclaim our rightful space in our respective countries and in our region, and demand our governments to:

1. Include SOGI provision into the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights, specifically inclusion of reference to „gender identity‟ and „sexual orientation‟ in Article 2.
2. Immediately repeal laws that directly and indirectly criminalize SOGI, recognize LGBTIQ rights as human rights, and harmonize national laws, policies and practices with the Yogyakarta Principles.
3. Establish national-level mechanisms and review existing regional human rights instruments (e.g. AICHR, ACWC) to include the promotion and protection of the equal rights of all people regardless of SOGI with the active engagement of the LGBTIQ community.
4. Depathologize SOGI and promote psychological wellbeing of people of diverse SOGI in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) standards and ensure equal access to health and social services.

Youth and Development
Young Volunteers in Southeast Asia: Immense Passion and Selfless Practice towards Positive Change

Volunteerism has always been one of the core values of social movements. Indeed, learning through direct acts of volunteerism will educate ASEAN‟s young generation. They can learn how to care, share and help each other. In that way, they can make their region more peaceful and its development more sustainable. However, society currently lacks a culture of volunteerism for many reasons. Youth who want to volunteer in other ASEAN member states face obstacles that need to be removed. They lack the financial backing and logistical support from their home governments.

Recommendations:

1. Promote volunteerism to all sectors in ASEAN community.
2. Have youth volunteer policies; provide more opportunities and strengthen the volunteer network for youth to contribute to society.
3. Provide both financial support and effective mechanisms.
4. Include volunteerism in the curricula of ASEAN educational institutions.
5. Establish a volunteer visa service for those who want to volunteer in Southeast Asia.

POLITICS AND SECUIRTY

ACSC Workshop: Solution for crisis in Arakan State: Strategy to be pushed forward by ASEAN
Continued sectarian violence between Rakhine and Rohingya communities in Arakan State, Myanmar, which started in June 2012 has resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Renewed violence in October 2012 has disproportionately affected the Rohingyas, who forms the majority of IDPs and compound the problems they already experience as stateless persons.

Irresponsible reporting of the conflict which frames the issue as a religious conflict between Muslims and Buddhists misrepresents a complex reality and risks exacerbating the situation, as violence towards other Muslim ethnic minorities has occurred and is spreading beyond Arakan State so that the whole country has been affected by the conflict. Rather than preventing violence, local authorities have been responsible for perpetrating human rights violations.

Any measures to resolve the crisis must be conflict sensitive and take into account the perspectives of both the Rakhine and Rohingya communities. A solution to the problem must be developed as part of a national initiative. The national government needs to play a key role in addressing the issue rather than allowing the humanitarian situation to deteriorate. International humanitarian aid has not been allowed access to the area. The investigation commission set up by the government in response to the crisis is currently preparing a report of its findings which will be released in December 2012.

Recommendations:

1. The government should review the 1982 Nationality Law in consultation with both Rohingya and Rakhine communities to develop a mutually agreeable solution.
2. The government should take appropriate action to establish rule of law to stop the violence, and in such a way that does not violate human rights.
3. The government should allow humanitarian agencies unfettered access to affected Rohingya and Rakhine communities and internally displaced persons in Arakan state.
4. The government should allow foreign journalists access to Arakan state.
5. National media should refrain from inflammatory reporting and provide objective coverage of the situation.
6. All victims of the violence in Arakan state should receive treatment for trauma and extensive measures should be taken by both state and non-state actors to ensure restoration of lasting peace, security, livelihood and development.

ASEAN Free and Fair Elections

Elections are a pre-condition to democracy and as they promote social, political, and economic development, all ASEAN member states, particularly those that do not currently hold elections, must commit to periodic, free and fair elections. Only then can we fulfill the potential of ASEAN and ensure it empowers its citizens and remains people-centered.

We encourage all ASEAN member states, their Election Management Bodies (EMBs) and civil society members to endorse the Bangkok Declaration on Free and Fair Elections. Created by civil society members and EMBs from across Asia, the declaration addresses, in a practical way, many of the challenges concerning elections in the ASEAN region. By endorsing and then implementing the Bangkok Declaration‟s principles by 2015, ASEAN governments can prove their full democratic legitimacy to become of the people, by the people and for the people they serve.

To hold a free and fair election, countries must, in the context of their own country and its unique challenges, nevertheless meet some specific criteria:

1. Have a complete electoral/legal framework that ensures universal participation of citizens and functional independence for Election Management Bodies.
2. The framework should empower minorities, marginalized citizens and other people with special challenges while promoting the full participation of women in elections and facilitating voting for citizens living abroad.
3. Systems for Electoral Dispute Resolution must ensure that all complaints and electoral disputes are settled in a timely and impartial manner with adequate investigation and neutral resolution mechanisms.
4. Voter lists must be accurate so as to ensure the right to vote for all citizens. Voter registration must be simple, convenient, accessible, available and conducted in a timely manner that results in an accurate, complete voter list.
5. The electoral campaign should be peaceful, free and fair. Media should be impartial.
6. There should be proper oversight of parties‟ campaign finances and no misuse or abuse of government resources or interference by security services.
7. Fair voting operations must include professional polling station management.
8. Both citizens and election officials must have adequate training and education to perform their roles reliably and responsibly.
9. Citizen Election Observers should be fully recognized, accredited, and included in elections.
Citizen observers can promote the integrity and transparency of the entire election process.
We urge ASEAN and/or its member states to utilize and benefit from the rich electoral experience found across Asia. We recommend they turn the documents into action and work together to build and ensure free and fair elections across the region.

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[From the web] Human Rights Day 2012- Your voice, your right. Your #VoiceCounts -OHCHR

Human Rights Day 2012

Where we come from does not determine who we can become. What we look like places no limits on what we can achieve. We should all have the right to express ourselves, all have the right to be heard, all have the right to be what we can be: To reach for the sky and touch the stars. No matter who we are, no matter whether we are man or woman, or rich or poor:

My voice, my right. My voice counts.”

Desmond Tutu, a key figure in the defeat of apartheid in South Africa, Nobel Prize Laureate, first black Archbishop of South Africa.

Inclusion and the right to participate in public life

Everybody has the right to have their voice heard and to have a role in making the decisions that shape their communities. Each one of us should be able to choose those people who will represent us in all governance institutions, to stand for public office, and to vote on the fundamental questions that shape our individual and collective destines.

The return on that investment is a society tuned to the needs and aspirations of its constituents. Where this fundamental right is respected, each and every one of us is offered the opportunity to join in the debate, to offer ideas, to campaign for change – to participate.

Fulfillment of the right to participate in public life is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society and an effective human rights protection system. Inclusion of ALL in decision-making processes is an essential precondition to the achievement of both.

Millions of people have gone onto the streets in the past few years to have their say, to protest the unyielding, unresponsive governments which have shut them out. They have demanded and continue demanding respect for their fundamental human rights, including their right to have a voice and for that voice to count.

Elsewhere, many remain silent, unable to take any part in the public lives of their communities. Often they cannot stand for office, vote for public officials or in referenda: at times they are prohibited from expressing their views at all.

Women, people with disabilities, individuals belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples, the poor, those with little or no education, remote rural communities, continue to be disenfranchised in many places, sometimes even prohibited from participation in public life or excluded on the basis of discriminatory laws or practices or because there is no appropriate infrastructure which would facilitate their inclusion.

The focus of this year’s Human Rights Day refers directly to the articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provide for the right to freedom of assembly and association, the right to take part in elections, in public life and decision-making institutions and the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

These values, endorsed by the international community, are legally binding obligations upon the 167 States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which stipulates that the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs applies to “every citizen without exception”.

In the face of the extraordinary contemporary challenges for democracy, climate change, globalization, the on-going economic and financial crises in many countries, and the explosion of global web-based communication, among others, participation and inclusion are critical in the development and implementation of durable, workable policy solutions.

Your voice, your right. Your voice counts.

On Human Rights Day 2012, you are invited to reaffirm your right to voice your opinion and to take part in public discourse and decision-making processes without shame, threat or fear.

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Day2012/Pages/HRD2012.aspx

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[Press Release] ASEAN: Postpone deeply flawed ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

ASEAN: Postpone deeply flawed ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Bangkok, Thailand – In a letter sent today to ASEAN Heads of State, leading international human rights organizations called for the postponement of the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, pointing out that in its current form, the Declaration falls short of existing international human rights standards and risks creating a sub-standard level of human rights protection in the region.

Of particular concern are the General Principles in the Declaration. Under General Principles 6,7, and 8 of the current draft, enjoyment of rights is to be “balanced with the performance of duties”, subjected to “national and regional contexts” and to considerations of “different cultural, religious and historical backgrounds.” Also, all the rights in the Declaration may be restricted on a wide array of grounds including “national security” and “public morality”.

“The idea that all human rights are to be ‘balanced’ against individual responsibilities contradicts the very idea of human rights agreed upon in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was affirmed by all States, including ASEAN Member States, in 1993 in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,” said Wilder Tayler, Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists. “Balancing human rights with responsibilities turns on its head the entire raison d’être of human rights,” he further emphasized.

Furthermore, international law prohibits governments from derogating under any circumstances from a broad set of rights. Other rights can only be subject to specific, narrow, and clearly defined restrictions in certain circumstances. Finally, international law imposes on all ASEAN Member States the duty, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to respect and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“It is clear that in its current form the Declaration purports to make a significant and worrying departure from existing international human rights law and standards, including those found in other regional human rights instruments, in Europe, the Americas, and Africa,” said Souhayr Belhassen, President of the International Federation for Human Rights.

“Unless significant changes are made to the text, ASEAN will be adopting in 2012 a Human Rights Declaration that grants ASEAN Member States additional powers to violate human rights instead of providing the region’s people with additional safeguards against such violations”, said Michael Bochenek, Director of Amnesty International’s Law and Policy Programme.

The organizations strongly urged in their letter that ASEAN leaders should return the draft text to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and send clear instructions to redraft it, in a transparent, deliberate and inclusive process, in full consultation with all stakeholders, so that it does not fall below internationally recognized human rights law and standards.

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[Urgent Action] Killing of an anti-mining advocate in Salcedo, Eastern Samar -The Observatory

URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY

PHL 003 / 0612 / OBS 062
Intimidation/death threats/assassination
Philippines
June 20, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in The Philippines.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) of the intimidation of, and threats against, Ms. Carolyn R. Borja and Ms. Nenita Lacasa, respectively President of Carapdapan Movement for Development Association (CAMADA INC.), and staff member.

According to the information received, on June 19, 2012, Ms Lacasa was at home at 2pm on May 6, 2012, when Mr. Teros Lopido, Trustee of the President of the Terrestrial Mining Corporation, got off a pick up and aimed one shot at the upper storey before leaving the scene. Ms. Lacasa also reported that unknown individuals had been monitoring her home on several occasions in May, at times standing guard in a pick up with the same number plate. In addition, on May 23, 2012, individuals riding two motorcycles fired shots at 11 pm on Ms. Borja’s home before fleeing the scene.

These violent acts of intimidation come in the wake of the stabbing to death, on May 1, 2012, of Mr. Franciso P. Canayong, President of Integrated Upland Farmers Association of Salcedo (BIUFAS), and member of Carapdapan Land Owners Association (CLOA), an organisation registered with the department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Mr. Canayong was also a member of CAMADA INC., and of Samar island partnership for peace and development. Mr. Canayong, a community leader, had led the people’s organization in actively supporting and advocating for peace and development issues, and particularly for the protection of the environment. He was active in the local campaign against the mining operation in Salcedo and in other parts of Eastern Samar, in the Eastern Visayas archipelago.

A few weeks before his killing, on March 19, 2012, Mr. Canayong, along with Ms Borja and Mr. Antonio M. Norte, barangay[1] councilor, had filed an affidavit in relation to verbal threats they had overheard on March 17,2012, during a conversation between Mr. Lopido, and some of his colleagues. The affidavit stated that Mr. Lopido had mentioned the names of Mr. Canayong, Mr. Norte and Ms. Borja, and the names of their associations. According to the affidavit, Mr. Lopido had threatened that “if the mining operation [is] stopped, they must leave their home and never show up again” otherwise he would kill them. According to the affidavit, Mr. Lopido had said that he would “enter each of their houses and kill them” if Mr. Canayong and his companions “interfered with their incoming chromite ore shipment.”

Mr. Canayong had consistently opposed mining activities because of its detrimental health and environmental impact on the community. On March 14 and 15, 2011, he had joined a barricade in barangay Carapdapan to stop the illegal transport of chromite ore by Terrestrial Mining Corporation on its way to China. Due to the group’s actions, the mining company had filed a civil case for damages against Mr. Canayong, Ms. Borja and 3 other members of their group at the Regional trial Court (RTC) branch 139 in Makati City, Manila.

In September 2011, Mr. Canayong, along with Ms. Borja and members of their group, had filed complaints with the office of the Ombudsman for the failure of the local government to intervene and stop the illegal mining activities in the area.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Philippines authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Borja, Ms. Lacasa and Mr. Norte, and of all human rights defenders in general in the Philippines;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the assassination of Mr. Canayong, and the death threats against Ms. Borja and Mr. Norte, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Provide adequate reparation to Mr. Canayong’s family;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
– its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
– its Article 6.a, which states that “everyone has the right individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems”,
– Article 12.1, which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”,
– and its Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

v. Guarantee the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

· H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, New Executive Building, Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines. Fax: +63 2 736 1010, Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
· Hon. Leila M. De Lima Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ) Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila, 1000 Philippines Fax: +63 2 523 9548 Tel: + 63 2 521 1908
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / doj.delima@gmail.com
· Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue, U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188 Fax: +63 2929 0102 Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com
Police Director Nicanor Bartolome Chief, Philippine National Police Camp General Rafael Crame Quezon City, Philippines Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401 Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763 Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph
· Hon. Emilio Gonzalez Deputy Ombusdman Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military And other Law Enforcement Offices 3rd Flr., Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman, 1004 Quezon City Fax: +63 2 926 8747 Tel: +63 2 926 9032
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32, Email: geneva.pm@dfa.gov.ph
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, 297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 340 33 77 / 2 340 33 78, Fax: +32 2 345 64 25.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, June 20, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80

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.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] ASEAN’s road to nowhere? Subverting standards within the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration -www.hrw.org

ASEAN’s road to nowhere?
Subverting standards within the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
Source: http://www.hrw.org/node/106836

By Phil Robertson
Published in: Strategic Review
April 26, 2012

In July, the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Phnom Penh will receive one of the most important documents drafted since the adoption five years ago of the ASEAN Charter. The ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights supposedly rings in a “new ASEAN” that is “people-oriented” with popular participation at its core.

Yet when the declaration, known as the ADHR, reaches the ministers, odds are that few citizens of ASEAN member countries will have ever heard of it, no meaningful public participation will have taken place about it and its contents may well call into question whether ASEAN and its members are prepared to abide by universal human rights standards.

With the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights coming up next year, few regional NGOs and human rights defenders thought they might have to revisit the debate about so-called “Asian values,” last promoted in the 1990s by Mahathir Mohamad and Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime ministers of Malaysia and Singapore. They made the case that rights should be based on the national, social and cultural contexts of Asian nations rather than the indivisibility and universality of human rights.

Regional human rights activists began a concerted effort in 1995 to persuade ASEAN, then often derided as a “club of dictators,” to create an ASEAN human rights commission and demonstrate a commitment to human rights through a declaration. Their campaign started after the Vienna conference effectively ended the “Asian values” debate by adopting a declaration that reaffirmed that “all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated” and added that the “international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis.”

ASEAN members didn’t object, and soon thereafter they agreed to start discussions on setting up an ASEAN-wide human rights commission. Few imagined the endeavor would ultimately stretch for more than a decade.

Fast forward to 2007, when ASEAN finally adopted a legally binding charter that contains laudable recognition of human rights in its guiding principles, which include “respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice.” But read on further, and the ambivalence of ASEAN towards its new arrangement becomes clear. Most telling is the charter’s inclusion of more traditional ASEAN fare, such as the bloc’s well-worn formula that requires “non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN member states.” This is the grouping’s quintessential mutual defense clause against unwelcome criticism.

Nevertheless, the charter called for a regional human rights commission, and when the ASEAN Inter-government Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was finally established in 2009, regional human rights campaigners celebrated the fall of the final citadel of resistance to universal human rights standards. Civil society groups gave the new commission the benefit of the doubt, and a long honeymoon period – in the expectation of gradual progress – began despite grave concerns about its limited mandate and lack of independence from regional governments.

But two years on, one of AICHR’s key mandates, to draft the declaration, is raising concerns that a number of member governments are trying to renege on what they agreed to in Vienna. Broadly speaking, there are three possible outcomes. The declaration could be brought forward as a document that challenges ASEAN to do more on human rights and sets standards above existing international human rights accords. But few expect that dream to come true. A second option is that the declaration meets international human rights standards, which while welcome would also raise questions about why ASEAN needed so much time to create such a declaration. The third option, which human rights defenders feel is most likely and thus are preparing to oppose, is an ADHR that seeks to undermine international standards.

At this point, it’s impossible to know for sure since the human rights commission shamefully refuses to reveal its draft declaration.

The Thai saying that “the seed doesn’t fall far from the tree” may help explain why ASEAN’s penchant for secrecy in its meetings and documents has also become AICHR’s operating principle. But it certainly doesn’t justify the commission’s systematic shunning of ASEAN civil society, which just a few years before was being feted by Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan with promises of a “people’s ASEAN,” which he claimed was critical for the bloc to work effectively.

AICHR clearly didn’t get the memo. To date, the commission has refused repeated requests to share the ADHR draft text with regional and national civil society groups. Even the terms of reference for the drafting committee, hand-picked by governments to develop the draft ADHR, have been kept secret as well as the names of the people selected to serve on the drafting committee.

When faced with repeated requests by civil society groups to release the draft terms of reference and the draft ADHR, the AICHR replied that the commission was not in a position to share “internal working documents” with outside parties. It’s not surprising then that the Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia) and the SAPA Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA TF-AHR) titled their comprehensive report on AICHR A Commission Shrouded in Secrecy. The report was released in Bangkok on April 26.

There is much at stake because, as Surin put it, the ADHR is supposed to be the “road map for regional human rights development” in ASEAN for years to come. The situation is bad enough that Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, chided AICHR after a meeting with civil society groups and the commission in Bali in November 2011. “The number one concern was that AICHR, as a body, is not talking to civil society,” she pointed out. “That is a major concern to me, as well. No discussion of human rights can be complete or credible without significant input from civil society and national human rights institutions.” She continued: “And I can understand civil society organizations’ extreme frustration that they have not even been able to contribute to the drafting of the declaration or been adequately consulted on its contents.”

Difficulties in accessing information within ASEAN have made regional human rights activists experts in digging up information, and even ostensibly sealed off systems like ASEAN spring leaks now and again. So after months of trying, civil society groups in the SAPA Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights finally got their hands on a copy of the draft ADHR dated January 8, 2012.

Judging from that draft – since there is no other available – it appears the situation is as bad as many regional human rights advocates feared. Significant swathes of the draft focus on limiting rights, rather than promoting and protecting them, with some particularly odious amendments being proposed by persistent human rights abusers Laos and Vietnam.

There are limitations that go well beyond what is permitted by international human rights standards, ranging from the impossibly vague, such as saying that the exercise of rights should not go against the “general welfare of the people” or “the common interest,” to the blatantly obstructionist, such as Laos’ rather defensive recommendation that the realization of rights must depend on principles including “non-confrontation, avoidance of double standards and non-politicization.”

While some of these more objectionable provisions might still get knocked out of the final version, the ADHR drafters are still insisting on language that resurrects the old excuses that use local social, cultural and religious contexts to erode human rights universality and condition enjoyment of rights on fulfillment of duties in ways that go beyond human rights standards. A push and pull debate is evidently going on between the governments of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, which are seeking to ensure full respect for universal human rights standards, and other members of ASEAN that are scrambling to ensure loopholes will be created to permit exemptions to international human rights law.

For example, problematic propositions like “creation of an environment where the peoples of ASEAN would enjoy, to the fullest possible extent, rights and freedoms within the regional context,” buttress efforts by governments like Malaysia to ensure that any discussion of discrimination by sex or sexual orientation is done in line with what it terms “ASEAN Core Values” rather than decisions of the UN Human Rights Council or the expert Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which was set up to assist countries in implementing their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Sadly, with regional human rights experts sidelined, the loophole strategy has a reasonable chance of success unless the international community demands that ASEAN change its rules to allow full civil society participation in the ADHR drafting and adoption process.

It’s not too late to alter the dynamic and make the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights the fully rights-respecting agreement that it is supposed to be. AICHR should immediately postpone efforts to send the draft declaration to the ASEAN foreign ministers in June. Instead, the AICHR and the ADHR drafting committee should devise a comprehensive participatory process to ensure that the views of nongovernmental organizations and human rights defenders are heard and incorporated into a real declaration that aims high and seeks to meet the aspirations of all the peoples of ASEAN. That would be an outcome worth waiting for.

Phil Robertson is Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

International Women’s Day

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, enshrines “the equal rights of men and women”, and addressed both the equality and equity issues.[84] In 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) for legal implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981.

The Convention defines discrimination against women in the following terms:

Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights

[In the news] UN rights body seeks compensation for jailed Pinoy journalist -ABS-CBNnews.com

UN rights body seeks compensation for jailed Pinoy journalist
ABS-CBNnews.com
February 3, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) wants the Philippine government to compensate a Davao City-based journalist who has been imprisoned for criminal defamation.

The UNHRC believes that the imprisonment of Alexander Adonis violated his right to free expression, according to an international media rights group.

The case stemmed from a 2001 radio broadcast in which Adonis reported on an alleged affair between then House Speaker Prospero Nograles and a married woman, the International Press Institute (IPI) said on Friday.

The UNHRC said the nearly 5-year prison sentence imposed on Adonis was “incompatible” with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The committee reported that Nograles filed a libel complaint against Adonis in response to the story.

The IPI said in 2007, a Davao City court sentenced Adonis to a prison term of 5 months to 4-and-a-half years.

The court also ordered him to pay P100,000 to the congressman for “moral damages” and imposed an additional P100,000 fine to “serve as an example for notorious display of irresponsible reporting,” the IPI added.

In his filing with the UNHRC, Adonis asserted that the libel provisions (Sections 353 and 354) of the Philippines Revised Criminal Code unreasonably infringed upon the right to free speech.

“The current law explicitly presumes malice in all defamatory statements and in nearly all cases rejects defences of truth or public interest,” the IPI said.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

[From the web] Sponsorship Speech of Senator Loren Legarda on the OPCAT ratification

Sponsorship Speech of Senator Loren Legarda on the OPCAT ratification
by Medicalactiongroup Mag on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 9:06pm

“Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)”
Senate Committee Report No. 92

Sponsorship speech of Sen. Loren Legarda

December 13, 2011

I have the honor to seek approval of Senate Resolution No. 664, entitled “Resolution Concurring in the Accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” prepared and submitted by the Committee on Foreign Relations on 12 December 2011 per its Committee Report No. 92.

Torture is a violation of human rights and human dignity. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. The Philippine Government’s position on torture is very clear. We condemn its use as a matter of fundamental principle. The Philippine Government is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights under the 1987 Constitution.

As a founding member of the United Nations and a member of the Human Rights Council, the Philippines reiterates its deep commitment to actively support, protect and promote Human Rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the core human rights treaties and other international instruments to which it is a state party.

It is propitious that I stand here today – three days after the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day and five days before the ninth anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture by the United Nations — to report out the Committee on Foreign Relations’ endorsement of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture or OPCAT.

Chronology of Events

The Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment or CAT was adopted by the UN General Assembly by Resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984 and was ratified by the Philippines on 18 June 1986.

CAT is the primary international anti-torture mechanism.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is a subsidiary instrument of the Convention Against Torture.

The OPCAT was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2002 at the 57th session of the UNGA by resolution A/RES/57/199 and entered into force in 22 June 2006.

Today, I ask that we give flesh to our human rights declarations. I strongly recommend that the Instrument of Accession for OPCAT be concurred in and signed by this august body.

Main Features of the Treaty and Obligations Upon Accession

What does this instrument seek to achieve?

The OPCAT seeks to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment through an international mechanism that will conduct regular visits to places of detention within State Parties. This mandate is carried out by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

It is a treaty obligation for State Parties to the OPCAT to accept visits from the Subcommittee and grant it access to all places of detention within its jurisdiction.

The OPCAT forwards the idea that through a system of regular jail visits by independent international and local monitors, torture and other forms of ill-treatment can be prevented in jails and that jail conditions can be improved. Visitorial powers are very important in the observance of human rights because the sheer process of observation will naturally change what is being observed.

States Parties to the OPCAT have to create or designate National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) which will work with the UN Subcommittee to conduct regular visits to all places of detention and make recommendations on the establishment of effective measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment and to improve the conditions of detention of all persons deprived of liberty.

The OPCAT also enables States Parties to benefit from advisory, technical and financial assistance.

Statement of Deferment

In endorsing the OPCAT, the Department of Foreign Affairs, under Article 24 thereof, informed the Committee on Foreign Relations that it will request the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture for a deferment of the implementation of the obligations in Part III of OPCAT to allow for completion of the Government’s reform programs for jails and detention facilities.

I support this request for such a deferment.

The deferment gives the Philippines 3 years to improve prison, detention and custodial facilities before the Subcommittee can perform visits. This declaration is an integral part of the Instrument of Accession signed by the President on 9 December 2010.

I wish to emphasize that the deferment refers only to requests for visits by the Subcommittee and not on the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism which is required by the OPCAT to be established within one year after accession.

Hence, despite the declaration, torture and ill-treatment can immediately be prevented because of the establishment of a national body that can undertake visits to prisons and other detention and custodial facilities.

This is not an exceptional request for even the United Kingdom has delayed its notification for the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism, a requirement under the OPCAT.

The bases for the request for a Philippine deferment of implementation after the accession of the OPCAT are three main realities in the country’s current penal system, namely: (1) overcrowding primarily traced to slow processing of cases, (2) outbreak of diseases, and (3) need for better jail environments that allow the rehabilitation and eventual reintegration of detainees.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), with its limited resources, has been struggling to meet the standard minimum rules for treatment of prisoners set forth by the United Nations.

Rule 10, Part I of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that:

“All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.”

In that light, the BJMP has set an accommodation space of three (3) square meters for each inmate.

With total cell area of its jails at 56,982 square meters, BJMP should be able to accommodate only 18,944 inmates. As of August 2009, BJMP facilities hold a total of 57,007 inmates nationwide, translating into a 201% congestion level.

From January to August of 2009, a monthly average of 3,411 has been committed as compared to 3,309 released, for a net monthly addition of 102 inmates.

The Philippines has a ratio of about one guard to every forty-eight prisoners, while the international standard is one guard for every seven prisoners.

As for allowance of an inmate’s meals, the government provides fifty pesos per inmate each day. The budget for medicines is a meager three pesos per inmate per day.

Similar problems also exist in our provincial jails which, pursuant to R.A. 6975 are under the direction, supervision and control of the provincial governors. As of August 2009, there are 75 provincial jails and 27 sub-provincial jails nationwide housing 26,618 inmates. These inmates are under the custody of 2,999 provincial guards which results to a custodial ratio of 1 jail officer to 9 inmates.

On the part of the Philippine National Police, many police stations, mostly small and cramped, still do not have separate cells for male and female detainees. Likewise, police stations lack the necessary holding rooms for children in conflict with the law (CICL) who are awaiting transfer to the DSWD or to responsible persons and institutions involved in the diversion program as provided for by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. (RA9344).

Article 2 of OPCAT provides that the Sub-Committee shall carry out its work within the framework of, inter alia,”norms of the United Nations concerning the treatment of people deprived of liberty,” including norms for women and children. It is imperativethat all Philippine prisons, detention and custodial facilities must meet UN norms and standards. Thus, the need for us to declare a deferment in the implementation of the OPCAT to allow us to upgrade our custodial facilities to UN levels.

There is a basis for the National Preventive Mechanism under our present laws. The Commission on Human Rights undertakes, as a regular function, jail visits and assistance to detainees. In fact, last June 23, 2009 a Memorandum of Undertaking was signed between the CHR and the PNP upholding the former’s visitorial powers over all police lock-up cells and jails.

Internal Inspections of jails also continue to be carried out by the DOJ and the DILG. There are also judicial inspections made by judges and court officials.

The Law on Custodial Investigation likewise allows visits by certain accredited civil society organizations, such as the Balay Rehabilitation Center, the Medical Action Group (MAG), and other NGOs within the Philippine Network Against Torture (PNAT). The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) has its own regular visits and even shares with Government the results of their work and recommends measures to improve conditions of our facilities.

State Parties to OPCAT

To date, there are 61 State Parties, and 22 additional State Signatories to the instrument. 37 States have designated their National Preventive Mechanisms.

Executive Endorsement

The country’s accession to the OPCAT has the support of relevant Government agencies. In the hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on 16 February 2011, the following agencies endorsed the country’s accession to the OPCAT namely DFA, DOJ, DILG, PHRC, CHR, AFP, PNP, BJMP, NBI, and PDEA.

Benefits of Accession

As a State Party to all eight core UN Human Rights Treaties, and as an internationally recognized champion of human rights in the region, it naturally follows that we accede to OPCAT. Our accession will help put into action our commitment to human rights and to the Government’s constitutionally mandated obligation to ensure that the rights of our citizens are upheld and protected.

OPCAT cuts across several international human rights instruments to which the Philippines is a Party due to specific or related provision on torture such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

I ask for the Senate’s concurrence in the country’s accession to the OPCAT, confident that this will strongly assist in keeping in check, acts of torture, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of detainees. We are hopeful, that by our accession to this instrument, our jail conditions will finally be improved, making them conducive to promote the rehabilitation of its residents.

For these reasons, I humbly recommend that the Senate approve Resolution No. 664, entitled: “Resolution Concurring in the Accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

By this recommendation, I also endorse the Declaration, integral to the instrument of accession signed by the President, requesting deferment of the implementation of the obligations in Part III of the OPCAT to allow for completion of the Government’s reform programs for jails and detention facilities before the Subcommittee can perform visits.

Thank you.

[Statement] Impunity for Enforced Disappearance Must End NOW! – AFAD

Today (December 10), as the world commemorates the 63rd International Human Rights Day, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances or (AFAD) calls on all governments particularly those in the Asian region to stop enforced disappearance and to end impunity.

Enforced disappearance is considered one of the cruelest human rights transgression. It is a multiple and continuous violation of the basic human rights not only of the direct victims but also of their families and the greater society. It inflicts untold sufferings to the victims who are forcibly taken by agents of the States and denied access to legal safeguards by removing them from the protection of the law. It causes ill-effects to the victims’ families, not knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. Mothers, wives, and daughters are usually left without any means to tend their families. In South Asian context, wives of the disappeared are called “half-widows’ who are stripped of legal status to obtain pensions and other means of support.  Children of the disappeared equally suffer. They are deprived of a normal family and a good future. No doubt, enforced disappearance sows fear and terror in society.

Many governments employ this atrocious practice as a tool of state repression and political witch-hunt. It is a major human rights concern of more than 80 countries based on the 2010 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, a thematic UN body created in 1980 to monitor the incidences of enforced disappearances worldwide. Many cases occur in Asian countries, the continent that submitted the highest number of cases.

The Asian region lacks a strong mechanism for redress.  There are no available domestic laws penalizing disappearance as a separate and autonomous criminal offense. Not only are cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances difficult to investigate and prosecute. They recur with each passing day in many Asian countries. Perpetrators can easily walk away from criminal accountability.

Efforts by several governments along with families of the disappeared and international human rights organizations have made possible the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly and its consequent entry into force on 23 December 2010. To date, this international human rights instrument has 90 signatories and 30 States Parties.

It is but imperative for all states to accede to the international treaty against enforced disappearances without reservation and immediately adopt effective national laws to abolish this horrendous practice.

While these legal measures and mechanisms may not bring back the disappeared, they can certainly help in finding truth and justice and in preventing cases from happening again. It only takes one small step to have a leap of change.

Ending impunity should both be a demand and a call for unity and action.

For the disappeared and their families, the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will have deeper meaning through governments’ accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the enactment of laws criminalizing disappearances and their full implementation.

Signed by:
MUGIYANTO
Chairperson
MARY AILEEN DIEZ- BACALSO
Secretary-General

[Blogger] Happy 63! [December 10, 1948] – koihernandez.wordpress.com

Happy 63! [December 10, 1948]
by koihernandez

Human rights are “commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.”

The idea of human rights, that is the notion that anyone has a set of inviolable rights simply on grounds of being human regardless of legal status, origin or conviction for crimes, emerges as an idea of Humanism in the Early Modern period and becomes a position in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.

The Declaration consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols.

In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law.

Read full article @ koihernandez.wordpress.com

[StatementFulfillment of Human Rights is the Path to Justice and Peace- Visayas Clergy Discernment Group

Human Rights Day Statement
(December 10, 2011)

As Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro, together with the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG) as its Head Convenor, we express our solidarity with the Filipino people and the peoples of the world in commemorating the International Human Rights Day on December 10.

In this 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we remember Jesus of Nazareth who said, “I came that they may have life, life in its fullness” (John 10:10). In line with this, we, bishops and priests of the VCDG ask: How could our people attain the fullness of life if the culture of death and impunity does not end?

We condemn the extra-judicial killings, whose latest victims in Mindanao include our brother priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio and peasant leader Ramon Batoy. The culture of impunity hounds us, as two years after the Maguindanao Massacre, justice remains elusive.

Our church’s social doctrines consistently promote and defend the inviolable dignity of the human person (cf. Mater et Magistra, 453) and denounce the many violations of human dignity. “A just society can become a reality only when it is based on the respect of the transcendent dignity of the human person” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church [CSDC], 107).

Moreover, we continually strive for justice since peace is the fruit of justice(cf. Is 32:17). In the on-going war in Mindanao and the rest of the country, innocent civilians have been killed resulting in massive evacuation; and the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the CPP-NPA-NDF and the MILF have been shaky.

We are then reminding concerned groups and institutions that peace is not a mere absence of war (cf. Populorum Progressio, 76).  Rather, a peaceful society is fulfilled through the defense and promotion of human rights (cf. CSDC, 495).

Human rights include the people’s right to development.   Environmental destruction, landlessness, homelessness and joblessness are phenomena which should make us reflect on the teachings of the World Synod of Bishops which say, “(a) people should not be hindered from attaining development in accordance with their own culture; and (b) through mutual cooperation, all peoples should be able to become the principal architects of their own economic and social development” (Justice in the World [JW], 71).

We remind everyone that, “Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity” (CSDC, 466).  Animals, plants, and the natural elements should not be used simply as one wishes, according to one’s own economic needs (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34).   We assert that economic development which is a right of all people, necessarily includes environmental protection.

The common good demands that civil authorities facilitate the exercise of the people’s rights and duties, since for as long as inequalities abound, human rights are rendered totally ineffective (cf. Pacem in Terris, 63). Consequently, with the continued violation of such rights, peace becomes impossible to attain.

We ask government officials to do their responsibilities as servants of the people by promoting and in defending human rights. Genuine servants of the people’s true goal must be the common good, and not prestige or the gaining of personal advantages (cf. CSDC, 410).

As we strive for the just ordering of society, we recall that in the Old Testament “God reveals himself to us as the liberator of the oppressed and the defender of the poor, demanding from people faith in him and justice towards one’s neighbor” (JW, 30).

In this light, Vatican II exhorts us to continue working for society’s improvement, “The social order … must be founded in truth, built on justice, and enlivened by love: it should grow in freedom towards a more humane equilibrium” (Gaudium et Spes, 26).

Thus, on Human Rights Day, we offer our prayers, sacrifices and good works as we endeavor for truth, justice, love and peace.  May Jesus and our Mother Mary be always with us.

As Christ lives,

BISHOP GERARDO A. ALMINAZA, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro,
and Head Convenor of Visayas Clergy Discernment Group
Tel. No. (033) 3291625
Visayas Convenors
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza
Msgr. Walter Cerbito
Msgr. Cayetano Gelbolingo
Msgr. Rommel Kintanar
Fr. Julius Heruela
Fr.  Aniceto Buenafe, Jr.
Fr. Paul Medina, O.Carm
Fr. Edgardo Deligero
Fr. Desiderio Magdoza
Fr. Scipio Deligero
Fr.  Antonio Bayod, MSC

[People] Engaging governments through the UPR process by Dr. Boyet Mabunga

by Dr. Boyet Mabunga
FREE ZONE

(Note:  This article was first published in HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM, Volume 5, Number 1issue.  Updated and modified to incorporate latest developments and preparation on the Philippine 2nd Cycle Universal Periodic Review slated on the 13th HRC/UPR Working Group session in May to June 2012.)

……………………………………………………………………………………..

“Every day we are reminded of the need for a strengthened United Nations, as we face a growing array of new challenges, including humanitarian crises, human rights violations, armed conflicts and important health and environmental concerns. Seldom has the United Nations been called upon to do so much for so many. I am determined to breathe new life and inject renewed confidence in a strengthened United Nations firmly anchored in the twenty-first century, and which is effective, efficient, coherent and accountable.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

IN 1997, and again in 2002, reforms in the United Nations gained ground in Geneva and New York, respectively. These reforms came in the heels of then-Secretary General Kofi Annan’s challenge to the UN’s “continued significance” in the face of 21st century realities. He called for improvements in how the UN conducts its work, implements its mandate and manages the funds entrusted to it by its Member States in order to bring human rights to all peoples of the world.

These reforms took a significant turn during the General Assembly’s 60th session. The world’s leaders adopted UNGA Resolution 60/251 on the 15th of March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council (HRC). The HR Council is now a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, taking over the role of the Commission on Human Rights, which was created under article 68 of the UN Charter on Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HRC was mandated to conduct a Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism to evaluate each member state’s human rights commitments. The said review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialog, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs. The UPR is intended to complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies.

At its fifth session on June 18, 2007, the Council responded to this request and adopted, through resolution 5/1, detailed modalities regarding the UPR. Threshed out in particular were the basis of the review, principles and objectives to be followed, the periodicity and order of review of countries, process and modalities, as well as the outcome and the follow-up to the review. The HRC also decided that the review would be conducted in a working group composed of the 47 member States of the Council.

At its sixth session on September 21, 2007, the HRC adopted a calendar in relation to the consideration of 192 Member States of the United Nations for the first four-year cycle of the UPR mechanism. The Philippines was selected among the 16 countries to be reviewed in the 1st UPR session on April 7–18, 2008.

The 1st cycle of the UPR process ended last October 2011 at the 12th session of the Human Rights Council.  The whole process was considered a “historic review of the human rights situation of the 192 United Nations member States”.  Immediately thereafter, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released an updated “Universal Periodic Review: information and guidelines for relevant stakeholders’ written submissions” for the 2nd Cycle’s submission of report and onwards.  It underscores two main changes on the technical guidelines:

The scope of submission to the 2nd cycle must include information on the follow-up and developments to the recommendations for the State-under-review (SUR).

The length of submission is fixed not to extend 2815 words for individual submissions and 5630 words for joint submissions.

As preparation for review, HRC required the concerned governments and other stakeholders to submit human rights reports, which should follow the following guidelines:

Description of the methodology and the broad consultation process followed for the preparation of information;

Developments since the previous review in background of the State under review and framework, particularly normative and institutional framework, for the promotion and protection of human rights: Constitution, legislation, policy measures, national jurisprudence, human rights infrastructure including national human rights institutions and scope of international obligations.

Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground: implementation of international human rights obligations identified in the “basis of review”, national legislation and voluntary commitments, national human rights institutions’ activities, public awareness of human rights, cooperation with human rights mechanisms;

Presentation by the State concerned of the follow-up to the previous review;

Achievements, best practices, challenges and constraints; in relation to the implementation of accepted recommendations and the development of human rights situations in the State;

Key national priorities, initiatives and commitments that the State intends to undertake to overcome challenges and constraints and improve human rights situations on the ground;

Expectations in terms of capacity-building and requests, if any, for technical assistance;

Read full article @ renatomabunga.wordpress.com

[From the web] STRAP’s ASEAN Declaration – www.tsphilippines.com

Recalling the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that states that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world;”

Affirming Article 1 of the UDHR that states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that “they are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood;”

Affirming Article 6 of the UDHR that states that “everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law;”

Affirming Article 22 of the UDHR that states that “everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality;”

Invoking Purposes 1.1 and 1.6 of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), which respectively are “to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of the peoples of ASEAN,” and “to uphold international human rights standards as prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and international human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member States are parties;”

Recalling that the top priority of the ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) includes “elimination of violence against women and children; trafficking in women and children; women and children living with and affected by HIV and AIDS; social impact of climate change on women and children; promotion and protection of the rights of women and children with disabilities; ASEAN and other instruments related to the rights of women and children; child protection system: integrative/comprehensive approach for children in need for social protection; the right to quality education, including Early Childhood Care, Development and Education (ECCDE); the right of children to participate in all affairs that affect them; women participation in politics and decision making, governance and democracy; strengthening economic rights of women with regards to feminization of poverty, women’s right to land and property; promoting implementation of international, gender equality in education (textbook, curriculum, and equal access); strengthening institutional capacities of ACWC; and promotion of consultation and dialogue with stakeholders at national and regional levels;”

Recognizing the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity;

Upholding the International Bill of Gender Rights which states that “all human beings carry within themselves an ever-unfolding idea of who they are and what they are capable of achieving. The individual’s sense of self is not determined by chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role. Thus, the individual’s identity and capabilities cannot be circumscribed by what society deems to be masculine or feminine behavior. It is fundamental that individuals have the right to define, and to redefine as their lives unfold, their own gender identities, without regard to chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role;”

Recalling the societal vision of our organization of a nurturing society that affirms, respects, and upholds the dignity, the right to self-determination and good quality of life of all;

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), in adopting this declaration, hereby:

Affirms the inherent dignity of all transgender people in the ASEAN Region and the rest of the world;

Affirms that gender identity and expression is a matter of self-determination and an exercise of the human right to the free development of personality;

Calls on the AICHR, ACWC and the ASEAN Commission to Implement the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) to uphold, protect, and promote the human rights of transgender populations across the ASEAN which include children, disabled, aging people, migrant workers and people living with HIV and AIDS;

Calls for rights-based legislation in the ASEAN member countries that (1) would protect transgender people from discrimination and bias-motivated crimes and (2) allow transgender people to change their legal sex into their gender identity.

Yours,

Naomi Fontanos
0920.269.7607
Chairwoman
Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)
http://www.tsphilippines.com
http://www.facebook.com/strap.manila
strapmanila.blogspot.com

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) is the pioneer human rights advocacy and support organization of transpinays (transgender/transsexual Filipinas). We seek to improve the public understanding of transsexualism, campaign for the right to define one’s gender identity and expression and work towards building a supportive  community amongst transgender/transsexual Filipina girls and women and a society free from transphobia and discrimination.

Weekend HR Posts Rundown and Analysis 17 September, 2011

Weekend HR Posts Rundown and Analysis
17 September, 2011

Human Rights Online Philippines features articles, blogs, news information and photos on human rights issues. It provides up-to-date information on human rights activities, events, campaigns, and solidarity actions in the Philippines. It aims not only to put human rights at the center of national discourse through digital media but also to elicit response from the public.

This week has been news and activity-filled information based on different thematic issues, sectoral concerns and other crosscutting problems.

1.  Labor rights

Labor rights, though a very broad human rights issues pertains particularly to the protection and respect of human life in the workplace and the right to work itself. Among the labor rights are the rights to job safety, collective bargaining, and equal pay for equal work.

To support the rights of workers, HRonlinePH deemed it necessary to post statements, activities and events that tackle on the existing labor policies and practices in the country which do not only run contrary to international labor standard but also violate basic human rights to work.

Posted articles:

  • [Press Release] PALEA rally today is warning to PAL vs. lockout of workers
  • [Press Release] Bishops agree to higher wages for workers – CWS
  • [Blogger] PALEA’s history – koihernandez.wordpress.com
  • [Press Release] In the first day of CWS National conference, Challenge for the Church is to be “Church of the Poor”
  • [Press Release] Papal Nuncio, International Groups Show Solidarity to First Church People-Workers Conference
  • [Press Release] Archbishop Lagdameo summons the Church to side with the oppressed – CWC
  • [Press Release] Workers expect concrete support from the Church on local and national concerns

Read more

Weekend HR Posts Rundown and Analysis 11 September, 2011

Weekend HR Posts Rundown and Analysis
11 September, 2011

Human Rights Online Philippines features articles, blogs, news information and photos on human rights issues. It provides up-to-date information on human rights activities, events, campaigns, and solidarity actions in the Philippines. It aims not only to put human rights at the center of national discourse through digital media but also to elicit response from the public.

This week has been news and activity-filled information for HR postings.

Due to the variety of human rights issues and concerns posted for this week, HRonlinePH decided to present this week rundown not through its typical contextual analysis but through the rights based approach. This is for our valued readers and subscribers to easily see and understand the real state of the human rights situation in the country.

1. Right to work
The Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR) states in Article 23 the following:

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment;

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work;

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection; and

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Read more

[Press Release] Political prisoners are victims of state torture – REHAS

Last December 5, 2006, the RPM-P/RPA-ABB has submitted its protest letter to the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) regarding the torture incidents that were experienced by 3 civilians and 4 members of NCR-RPA-ABB relative to Nov. 17, 2006 mis-encounter.

The findings of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) confirmed that in deed Mr. Ramonit Moralidad (civilian, Alab Katipunan organizer), Mr. Rodolfo Tiopis (civilian), Ms. Erika Tiopis (civilian), Ka-Randy Puno (RPA-ABB), Ka-Victor Valdez (RPA-ABB), Ka-Chito Catbagan (RPA-ABB) and Ka-Joebert Dumlao (RPA-ABB) were severely tortured by some members of Mandaluyong police as a means of extracting information vis-à-vis the death of PO3 John-John Justo.

The medical examinations conducted by the Commission on Human Rights show multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerated wounds on the said three RPA-ABB members and four civilians. Randy Puno and Victor Valdez has second degree burns/scalding injuries of the neck and back. A circular wound consistent with a cigarette burn was noted along the right thigh of Erika Tiopis. Randy Puno was admitted at Mandaluyong Public Hospital and treated for secondary infection of his burns. Randy Puno experienced sexual torture in the form of inserting an object inside his penis. Chito Catbagan and Joebert Dumlao experienced physical beating, squeezing their fingers with bullets inserted between them.

The various forms and methods of torture inflicted to persons mentioned above falls under human rights question and of public interest. The on-going peace process between GRP and RPM-P/RPA-ABB uphold the full respect for human rights (Clarificatory Documents, Article I-Principles, #1). The Implementing Guidelines of Cessation of Hostilities also expand to include actions that are violations of people’s basic rights (Article I, #1). The concrete expression that the GRP-RPM-P/RPA-ABB peace accord covers human rights incident is seen in the representation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the JEMC National Technical Working Group on Civil and Political Rights (Rules and Procedures, Article III, letter-D, #2). Therefore, there is no doubt that human rights issues and concerns are integral part of the GRP-RPM-P/RPA-ABB Peace Agreement, and therefore, human rights violations falls under hostile acts (Rules and Procedures, Article II-On definition of Hostilities).

To quote the words of late Sen. Jose Diokno: “Human rights are more than legal concepts, they are the essence of man, deny them, you deny man’s humanity.”

The various forms and methods of torture inflicted by some Mandaluyong PNP elements to RPA-ABB members and three civilians are breach of existing GRP-RPM-P/RPA-ABB peace accord and an infringement of United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Even ordinary offenders and criminals have human rights as provided in our domestic laws, and same true with captured combatants as stipulated in Protocol II of the United Nations Geneva Convention. Furthermore, the JEMC decision on arrested RPA-ABB members states that:

“The action expected of the PNP point person is to make sure that the arrested person shall not be inflicted with physical injuries…” [with reference to the Key Agreements made during10th JEMC Regular meeting, dated 19 Nov. 2004 in Bacolod City]

We sometimes thought that the use of torture perpetrated by the government against its perceived enemies as a means of extracting information was a thing of the pass, a bygone (Marcos period) but realities proved that until this juncture such act continued. Almost all political prisoners have experienced torture from government AFP/PNP forces.

Until this day, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) did not file any administrative or criminal case against the Mandaluyong police who were involved in the torture despite that it was the CHR people who conducted medical investigation and concluded that in deed the prisoners were severely tortured in various methods and forms inside the Mandaluyong Police Station by some PNP officers who were under the command PSupt. Velasquez.

We are therefore calling Pres. Noynoy Aquino, the Chief PNP leadership, DOJ Sec. Leila de Lema and CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales to immediately look into this matter and proper administrative and criminal cases should be filed against perpetrators. Violators of human rights should be tried and prosecuted so that no one will follow their foot steps.

PRESS RELEASE
BY:REHAS

POLITICAL PRISONERS ARE VICTIMS OF STATE TORTURE
http://prisonersphilippines.wordpress.com

[From the web] Historic Decision at the United Nations:Human Rights Council Passes First-Ever Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

[We received this email from our friends in the LGBT community. Congratulations to all human rights defenders among the LGBT movement around the world for this groundbreaking leap. Padayon! -HRonlinePH]

(Geneva, June 17, 2011) In a groundbreaking achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity (L.9/Rev.1).

The resolution, presented by South Africa along with Brasil and 39 additional co-sponsors from all regions of the world, was passed by a vote of 23 in favour, 19 against, and 3 abstentions.  A list of how States voted is attached. In its presentation to Council, South Africa recalled the UDHR noting that “everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind” and Brasil called on the Council to “open the long closed doors of dialogue”.

Today’s resolution is the first UN resolution ever to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and follows a joint statement on these issues delivered at the March session of the council. It affirms the universality of human rights, and notes concern about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This commitment of the Human Rights Council sends an important signal of support to human rights defenders working on these issues, and recognizes the legitimacy of their work.

“The South African government has now offered progressive leadership, after years of troubling and inconsistent positions on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity. Simultaneously, the government has set a standard for themselves in international spaces. We look forward to contributing to and supporting sustained progressive leadership by this government and seeing the end of the violations we face daily”. (Dawn Cavanagh, Coalition of African Lesbians)

The resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and calls for a panel discussion to be held at the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner, and to consider appropriate follow-up.

“That we are celebrating the passage of a UN resolution about human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation is remarkable, however the fact that gender identity is explicitly named truly makes this pivotal moment one to rejoice in,” added Justus Eisfeld, Co-Director of GATE.  “The Human Rights Council has taken a step forward in history by acknowledging that both sexual and gender non-conformity make lesbian, gay, trans* and bi people among those most vulnerable and indicated decisively that states have an obligation to protect us from violence.”

“As treaty bodies, UN special procedures, and national courts have repeatedly recognized, international human rights law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.” (Alli Jernow, International Commission of Jurists)

The resolution is consistent with other regional and national jurisprudence, and just this week, the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS recognised the need to address the human rights of men who have sex with men, and the Organization of American States adopted by consensus a resolution condemning violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Earlier in this 17th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, reported to the Council that:

“[C]ontributory factors for risk of violence include individual aspects of women’s bodily attributes such as race, skin colour, intellectual and physical abilities, age, language skills and fluency, ethnic identity and sexual orientation.”

The report also detailed a number of violations committed against lesbian, bisexual and trans women, including cases of rape, attacks and murders.  It is therefore regrettable that a reference to “women who face sexuality-related violence” was removed from the final version of another resolution focused on the elimination of violence against women during the same session.

“Despite this inconsistency, we trust the UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity will facilitate the integration of the full range of sexual rights throughout the work of the UN.” (Meghan Doherty, Sexual Rights Initiative)

A powerful civil society statement was delivered at the end of the session, welcoming the resolution and affirming civil society’s commitment to continuing to engage with the United Nations with a view to ensuring that all persons are treated as free and equal in dignity and rights, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Now, our work is just beginning”, said Kim Vance of ARC International. “We look forward to the High Commissioner’s report and the plenary panel next March, as well as to further dialogue with, and support from, those States which did not yet feel able to support the resolution, but which share the concern of the international community at these systemic human rights abuses.”

ARC International, John Fisher (Geneva) +41 79 508 3968 or john@arc-international.net

Amnesty International, Peter Splinter (Geneva) +41 (0) 22 906 9483 or Emily Gray (London) +44 (0) 20 7413 5865

CAL – Coalition of African Lesbians, Dawn Cavanagh (South Africa) + 27 11 918 6115 or dawn@cal.org.za

COC Nederland, Björn van Roozendaal
(Netherlands) +31 6 22 55 83 00 or BvanRoozendaal@coc.nl

Council for Global Equality, Mark Bromley (Washington)  +1.202.719.0511 or Mark@globalequality.org

GATE – Global Action for Trans* Equality, Justus Eisfeld (New York) jeisfeld@transactivists.org, +1-646-341-1699 or Mauro Cabral (Argentina) mcabral@transactivists.org or +54 9 351 5589876

Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, Stefano Fabeni (Washington) +1 312-919-3512 or sfabeni@heartlandalliance.org

Human Rights Watch, Siphokazi Mthathi (South Africa) mthaths@hrw.org or + 27 82 777 1319/ +27 11 484 2640 or Juliette De Rivero (Geneva) +41 079 640 1649 or derivej@hrw.org

IDAHO – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Joel Bedos (France) jbedos@dayagainsthomophobia.org

IGLHRC – International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Jessica Stern (New York) + 1 212 430 6014 or jstern@iglhrc.org

ILGA- the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Renato Sabbadini, +32 474 857 950 or renato@ilga.org

International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization STP 2012, Amets Suess, stp2012@gmail.com

International Commission of Jurists, Alli Jernow (Geneva) +41(0)22 979 3800) or allison.jernow@icj.org

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Bjorn Pettersson (Geneva), b.pettersson@ishr.ch, +41 22 919 7117

Sexual Rights Initiative, Meghan Doherty, Sexual Rights Initiative, +41 (0)78 871 6713 or meghan@acpd.ca

Thailand’s Sexual Diversity Network, Paisarn Likhitpreechakul +66 81 634 3450 or forsogi@gmail.com

Transgender Europe (TGEU), Carla LaGata (Germany), mana@zedat.fu-berlin.de

Attachment (Records of Vote and Co-Sponsorship)

States supporting the resolution: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, UK, USA, Uruguay

States against the resolution: Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda.

Abstentions: Burkina Faso, China, Zambia

Absent: Kyrgyzstan, Libya (suspended)

Co-Sponsors of the resolution: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania,  Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and Uruguay.

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