UN rights council urged to pass reso to address ongoing abuses in Philippines

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
UN rights council urged to pass reso to address ongoing abuses in Philippines
This photo taken on June 10, 2022 shows relatives of a victim of the government's drug war carrying a box containing the remains after they were exhumed at Bagbag Cemetery in Novaliches, Metro Manila.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Human Rights Council should recognize that the human rights crisis in the Philippines persists and adopt a strong resolution addressing the situation, a human rights organization said Monday.

In a policy paper submitted to UN member states, Human Rights Watch said that extrajudicial killings in the government’s "war on drugs" still continue. The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 51st session from September 12 to October 7 in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Lucy McKernan, Geneva director at HRW, stressed that continued UN scrutiny is “vitally important.”  

“UN member states should not be fooled by the baseless claims from the new Philippine government that the rights situation has suddenly improved,” McKernan said.

HRW called on the 47-member council to pass a resolution creating expanded human rights monitoring mechanisms and continuing the UN Joint Program.

The joint program was the UNHRC’s response in 2020 to the clamor to stop human rights violations linked to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs. It stopped short of an independent probe into the human rights situation that groups were calling for at the time.

The resolution should also explicitly request continued reporting by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in the country, the HRW said.

Stop drug war, red tagging

HRW said the resolution should call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to unequivocally end the “war on drugs,” and form a “truth commission” that will gather testimony from witnesses and victims and make recommendations for achieving justice and ensuring payment for reparations.

Marcos earlier said he would continue the internationally condemned program “within the framework of the law.”

The OHCHR calculated in its report to the rights council that the death toll was at least 8,663. But human rights groups estimate the figure is possibly triple the number recorded in the UN report.

The text should also urge the government to halt the practice of red-tagging critics of the government, and the harassment of journalists and activists.

It should also urge Marcos to release former lawmaker Leila de Lima, to name independent human rights experts to the Commission on Human Rights, and to facilitate the full participation of civil society organizations in the UN joint program.

“UN member states should make sure they don’t drop the ball on the Philippines and instead strengthen the Human Rights Council’s efforts to improve human rights in the country,” HRW’s McKernan said.

“Filipinos who suffered the most during the Duterte administration are looking to the Human Rights Council to help them achieve justice for themselves and their loved ones,” she added.

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