Human Rights Watch calls for release of #Pride20
This photo shows members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community protesting against the anti-terror bill.
League of Filipino Students/released
Human Rights Watch calls for release of #Pride20
( - June 30, 2020 - 12:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called for the release of those arrested at the Pride rally last week for allegedly violating quarantine protocols.

“Cracking down on protests is an affront to the very notion of Pride. Authorities in the Philippines should immediately release all those arrested on June 26 and reaffirm their fundamental right to peaceful protest under domestic and international law,” HRW said in a statement.

Despite the protesters’ observation of social distancing protocols at Mendiola as seen in photos uploaded online, police apprehended the "Pride 20" without a warrant and subsequently held them at the Manila Police District headquarters. Three of the arrested have since been released since they were minors but 17 remain under police custody as of Tuesday noon.

A GMA News Online report said those arrested underwent inquest on Saturday. They face a complaint for violation of Republic Act 11332 or the law on reporting of communicable diseases and Batas Pambansa 880 or the Public Assembly Act.

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HRW noted that the law enforcers failed inform them of why they were arrested, but were just told that their actions are prohibited by law. Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, law enforcers should inform the person of the circumstances of the arrest and recite the Miranda warning.

“As Filipino human rights advocates have pointed out, these laws do not prohibit protests and rallies, and the protesters were following social distancing protocols and wearing masks,” HRW said.

“The government should not use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to silence dissent and violate fundamental human rights, including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” it added.

The rights group also said the police arrest during Pride rally only showed why they were rightful in expressing their opposition to the controversial anti-terrorism bill, “which would make it much easier for police to arrest critics of the government.”

“President Rodrigo Duterte should not sign the Anti-Terrorism Act, and lawmakers should go back to the drawing board and ensure any future counterterrorism legislation protects the right to peaceful protests,” HRW added. — Kristine Joy Patag

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