UN welcoming reports detailing status of human rights in PH

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 04 2020 04:49 AM | Updated as of Jan 05 2020 02:27 AM

Church groups, peace advocates, and human rights defenders call for peace during a forum in Quezon City in September 2019, amid widespread killings around the country. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA—The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) is encouraging submissions on the state of human rights in the Philippines, following a UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution ordering the national government to come up with a comprehensive report.

In a post on its website, the OHCHR said it is inviting UN member states, civil society, the UN system and the public to submit information or analysis of the human rights situation in the country to its email address, HRCreportPH@ohchr.org.

The reports must be factual or analytical, based on accurate and verified information, in English or French and must only be 10 pages long or about 5,000 words. Individual case or investigation materials are not needed.

OHCHR promised to protect the identities of interviewees.

The UNHRC, in an 18-14-15 vote in June 2019, adopted a resolution asking the OHCHR to prepare a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, which will be presented to the UNHRC at its 44th session in June.

The resolution also called on the Philippine government to cooperate with the OHCHR and the mechanisms of the HRC by facilitating country visits, and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.

It urged Manila to “take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards, including on due process and the rule of law.”

According to government figures, more than 5,000 suspects have died in legitimate police operations, although human rights groups claimed the actual figure of casualties in the country’s drug war is more than 20,000.

The Philippines rejected the passage of the HRC resolution, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. calling it a travesty.

Among the groups that have submitted their reports to the OHCR are lawyer’s group National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), rights group Karapatan, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), which all submitted their reports in December.

In its report, the NUPL said the rise in the number of killings and other human rights violations in the country in the past 3 years has been “unprecedented.”

The group listed 44 judges, prosecutors and lawyers killed in different parts of the country since Duterte took office in 2016, alleging that the current situation in the Philippines has made lawyering “more perilous.”

Karapatan, meanwhile, accused the Duterte administration of committing extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, illegal arrests and detention, torture, forcible evacuation and other rights violations against families, communities, and human rights defenders (HRD), in the course of implementing its anti-drugs and counterinsurgency programs.

“From July 2016 to November 2019, Karapatan documented 293 victims of EJKs perpetrated in line with the counterinsurgency program, with 167 defenders killed or an average of one to two HRDs killed every week. Our documentation also bears at least 429 victims of frustrated killings; these victims have survived or have escaped from attempts by suspected perpetrators from State actors,” the group said in its report.

The NCCP, an ecumenical fellowship of 10 Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches and 9 service-oriented organizations, cited threats, harassment and intimidation against church workers, including Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox, who was booted out of the country for allegedly taking part in partisan activities.

They also complained against vilification of churches and their people, as well as filing of trumped-up charges against them.

The deadline for the submission of reports is on January 31, 2020.