HRC44 Oral statement for the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on human rights situation in the Philippines

Press release

UN Human Rights Council – 44th session

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on human rights situation in the Philippines

30 June 2020

Madam President,

FIDH welcomes the report released earlier this month by the High Commissioner on the serious and ongoing human rights violations in the Philippines.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the human rights situation in the country has further deteriorated.

President Duterte’s threats to issue shoot-to-kill instructions to deal with COVID-19 lockdown [quote/unquote] “troublemakers” and to declare a martial law-like virus crackdown are also troubling and reminiscent of Mr. Duterte’s disastrous rhetoric in his so-called “war on drugs”.

The assault on human rights defenders and government critics has intensified. The recent conviction of journalist Maria Ressa on politically motivated charges of cyber libel is illustrative of this trend.

The proposed new anti-terror bill is also very likely to lead to more human rights violations and to further undermine the rule of law.

Prison conditions remain another issue of concern. The country’s jails remain among the world’s most overcrowded and many cases of COVID-19 infections have emerged among prisoners. The government must heed the sensible and repeated calls for the release of certain prisoners to decongest jails as an urgent measure needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All these and other serious human rights violations continue to be committed amid pervasive impunity for the perpetrators.

This is why we renew our call for the establishment of an independent investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines during the current council session.

Thank you.

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