Delegates wearing protective mask and keeping social distance as a precautionary measure against spreading COVID-19 attend the 44th session of the Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on June 30, 2020.
Denis Balibouse/POOL/AFP
Groups urge UN rights council to deliver 'strong' resolution on Philippines
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - July 1, 2020 - 10:52am

MANILA, Philippines — Rights groups both in the Philippines and abroad called on the 47-member state United Nations Human Rights Council to take further action on the human rights situation in the country.

This, after UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet presented to the council’s 44th session Tuesday her office’s report on the Philippines, which highlighted the “grave” human rights violations—including extrajudicial killings—under the government’s war on drugs and the vilification of dissent.  

In a joint statement, Karapatan and international monitor CIVICUS said Bachelet’s report underscored that the country’s “once-vibrant and open tradition of civil society activism is under serious threat.”

Days before the council opened its session, the Philippines was added to CIVICUS Monitor’s watchlist of countries that have seen a “rapid decline” in fundamental democratic freedoms in recent months.

“We call on the members of this council to follow up with action and deliver a strong resolution which delivers the accountability measures that are so urgently needed, and demonstrates that council members are committed to upholding respect for and protection of human rights,” Karapatan and Civicus said.

“No country is above scrutiny, nor should they be above law,” they added.

Amnesty International said the report’s finding that extrajudicial executions in the country are “widespread and systematic” fits the organization’s conclusions that the killings “amount to crimes against humanity.”

It urged the Human Rights Council to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the human rights violations in the Philippines.

Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, earlier said her office is seeking to finalize preliminary examination into President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity in the context of his bloody anti-narcotics campaign this year.

Non-governmental organization IBON International, for its part, called on the council to adopt the UN report and implement the report’s recommendations.

“With the recent UN report, we join the international calls for accountability, and for the immediate need to end the murderous ‘war on drugs,’ to junk repressive ‘national security’ policies such as the Executive Order 70 as well as the Anti-Terror Bill—as major threats to peoples’ civil-political rights in the Philippines,” Amy Padilla, IBON International executive director, said.

During the session Tuesday, Justice chief Menardo Guevarra said the government has created an inter-agency panel to investigate killings related to the war on drugs.

Latest government figures put the number of alleged drug personalities killed in the war on drugs at 5,601. But it is significantly lower than the estimates by human rights watchdogs of as many as 27,000 killed. 

Last year, the Human Rights Council voted to adopt a resolution requiring Bachelet to prepare a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

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