September 22, 2017
QUEZON CITY – At the 36th United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland, Karapatan, speaking on behalf of international human rights organizations Civicus and International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), called on the member States of the UN HRC to support the call for “a halt to all forms of attacks on human rights defenders in the Philippines, the enactment of a law for their protection, and the acceptance of a full, independent visit to the Philippines by UN Special Rapporteurs, including on the situation of HRDs.”
Since the previous session on the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines last May 2017, the Philippine government received 257 recommendations, of which 103 are supported and 154 noted by the Duterte administration.
Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor, who delivered the said statement at the UN HRC, said that in the first year of the Duterte regime, at least fifty human rights defenders, many who were leaders of peasant and indigenous communities, have been killed under the cover of counter-insurgency programs. This was worsened by President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, which has also resulted in thousands more casualties of regular Filipino citizens, Clamor said.
“Since the May review, human rights activists have seen no reprieve in the harassment and threats by State security forces. This includes the Secretary General of people’s organisation Karapatan, Cristina Palabay. Duterte’s pronouncements endanger the lives of HRDs who speak out against his repressive policies, including the drug war and martial law declarations, as well as for respect of rights, such as to a safe and healthy environment. The filing of trumped-up charges to criminalize HRDs has been normalized by the government, hampering us from doing our work and violating our freedom of association,” he further stated.
Karapatan also raised concerns on the “ominous signs of a nationwide martial law under Pres. Duterte” that, the organization said, “hover like a sword of Damocles over HRDs and the Filipino people.”
“Our history shows that such a decision will worsen the current state of human rights in the country,” he added.
Meanwhile, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay criticized the Duterte regime’s continuing denial of the occurrence of extrajudicial killings and other rights violations in the Philippines before the international human rights body, referring to the recent statement of Ambassador Evan Garcia before the said UN HRC session.
“The truth about the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines and the rising protest of Filipino people against Duterte’s tyrannical rule, as shown by yesterday’s protest actions in Luneta, Manila and other cities and countries, trumps all their lies, fake news and misinformation,” she concluded.