Filipino rights defenders to present real human rights situation at UN rights review

The UN Human Rights Council is set to review the Philippine government's human rights record on May 8 in Geneva, Switzerland, and Philippine partners, together with other human rights organizations and defenders, will be there to participate in the process.

On May 8, the Philippine government’s human rights record will be examined by member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UPR is a process where all UN members are subjected to a review every four years of their compliance with international human rights instruments and their commitments and pledges.

This will be the third cycle of the UPR on the Philippines which shall cover the period from May 2012 to September 2016 spanning the administrations of former president Aquino and current president Duterte.

Filipino human rights defenders will participate in the process and will be represented by the Philippine UPR Watch, a network of faith-based and human rights organizations established to engage in the said process to actively monitor the Philippine government’s adherence to its commitments to international human rights agreements and law.  Since the first cycle of the UPR in 2008, the Philippine UPR Watch has been widely involved in monitoring and lobbying efforts to present the human rights situation grounded in the reality of the marginalized and oppressed sectors of Philippine society.

TWHA partners Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) and Gabriela are member organizations of UPR Watch. Children’s Rehabilitation Center of the consortium partner Kiyo is also part of the delegation.

During a press briefing, Karapatan deputy general secretary Jigs Clamor emphasized the need to hold the Philippine government accountable for the continuing spate of human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harassment, and impunity.

“Continuing assaults on people’s rights indicate the urgency for just and lasting peace in the Philippines. There is a need to make the Benigno Aquino III regime accountable for the crimes it has committed against the people while pursuing the call for the Duterte government to stop dismissing and start addressing issues on rights violations and the roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines,” said Clamor.

Sharon Cabusao of Gabriela said the women’s group will bring to the UPR the intensifying violence committed on women and children as well as the political repression faced by its members in the course of their advocacy works. She cited various instances wherein Gabriela community organizers were harassed and stalked by alleged police and military intelligence agents.

Other TWHA-Solidagro-Kiyo consortium Philippine partners have supported and contributed to the process by furnishing documents and information in the matter of right to health, right to food and children’s rights.

The Philippine UPR watch delegation is also set to tackle the issue on drug-related killings, in connection with the current government's so-called ‘war on drugs'.

“Duterte’s policy on drugs will continuously weigh on his administration, and it has to be addressed. We continuously challenge the current government to seriously tackle the socio-economic causes of such a problem and formulate a policy that gives credence to human dignity. The urban poor, already neglected and stripped off of their economic rights, are now being subjected to another form of violation,” Clamor said.