Philippines: Delegation calls for justice for human rights victims
1/06/2012 3:41:21 PM
Act for Peace’s partner, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), has joined church and civil society organisations from across the Philippines at the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, advocating for an end to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture and the dismantling of the culture of impunity that has allowed these violations to occur.
Universal Periodic Review team
Delegates from church and civil society groups in the Philippines attended the UN's human rights review of the Philippine government.
The Universal Periodic Review allows the human rights record of all 192 UN Member States to be reviewed every four years. It seeks to remind states of their legal responsibility to meet human rights commitments in their country and to reduce the incidence of human rights violations.
The Philippine Universal Periodic Review team, composed of ten civil society groups including NCCP, represented human rights organisations, labour movements, indigenous and marginalised groups and church delegations. Their message to the Philippine government was emphatic: to demonstrate a firm political will to end all manifestations of human rights abuse across the country.
According to the team, the Aquino government’s submission to the review failed to effectively address and account for its pre-election promise on human rights.
UPR delegate Attorney Edre Olalia, Secretary General of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said, "The report tends to highlight lesser achievements by gloating over showcase steps it has belatedly done while conveniently drowning the more essential issues such as the almost nil conviction rate of perpetrators of rights abuses, the failure of the Aquino government to press charges and arrest suspects, and the continuing effects of the government’s counter-insurgency program on the people. There is basically deafening silence from the Government of the Philippines on all these issues."
The review, held on May 29, saw approximately 67 states question the Philippine government on its human rights record. As a result, a series of recommendations were made to the Philippine government, including:
• To step up efforts to fully prohibit and address cases of torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and ensure there were mechanisms in place to address such cases;
• To enhance human rights-based training for all law enforcement personnel on the absolute prohibition of torture and ill treatment;
• To ratify the Convention on forced disappearances, withdraw all reservations to the CAT and ensure national legislation was in line with the Rome ICC Statute, to ensure related cases were well recorded;
• To end impunity for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture and bring those responsible to justice;
• To ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders and journalists and effectively investigate and prosecute attacks against journalists and to introduce into domestic law strong legislation prohibiting these acts and imposing criminal penalties;
• To invite the UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders to visit the country;
• To dismantle and disarm all paramilitary forces and militias; and
• To implement the Act on the Rights of Indigenous People to guarantee that economic activities did not have a negative effect on the rights of indigenous people; to intensify efforts for the sustainable use of natural resources.
Fr. Jonash Joyohoy, a representative of the NCCP, said the role of the international community in bringing pressure to bear is not to be underestimated. "We view the questions and statements of continuing concern by the different foreign missions as very telling. It shows even greater interest by the international community in the human rights situation. They know that the Philippine government has not lived up to its commitment to completely eliminate extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture. The language used may have been diplomatic, but clearly the international community wants the Philippine government to do more."
Act for Peace supports the work of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines in its work for justice and peace. To learn more about this work, please click here.