Philippines: Arbitrary arrest, judicial harassment, and imminent deportation of Sister Patricia Fox

04/05/2018
Urgent Appeal

PHL 003 / 0518 / OBS 056
Arbitrary arrest / Release /
Obstacles to freedom of movement
Philippines
May 3, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest, judicial harassment, and imminent deportation of Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian nun who has lived in the Philippines for almost 30 years, and is known as an advocate for agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, urban poor and peasants’ rights [1].

According to the information received, on April 16, 2018, at around 2:30 pm, six uniformed intelligence officers from the Bureau of Immigration visited Sister Patricia’s missionary home in Project 3, Quezon City, Metro Manila. The officers then “invited” her to the Bureau of Immigration for a random check and verification of her immigration papers and status. The officers showed Sister Patricia an order but did not provide her with a copy of the document.

After arriving at the Bureau of Immigration office in Manila at around 4:00 pm, the officers provided a Miranda warning to Sister Patricia and told her she was under arrest for “illegal political activities”. They also told her that she was an “undesirable alien”, and that she would be detained overnight and deported the following day. No documents indicating the charges were provided to her. She was released in the afternoon the following day and given 10 days to respond with a counter-affidavit.

On April 18, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he had personally ordered Sister Patricia be investigated for alleged “disorderly conduct”. It is believed that Sister Patricia’s arrest was a result of her participation in recent rallies demanding the release of political prisoners and urging Philippine authorities to respect human rights. On April 6-9, 2018, she also visited detained farmers in Tagum City, Davao del Norte Province, and workers on strike as part of an International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission (IFFSM) conducted by human rights and farmers’ organizations in Mindanao. The purpose of the IFFSM was to investigate human rights violations under Martial Law.

On April 25, 2018, the Bureau of Immigration issued an order based on Section 9 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, forfeiting Sister Patricia’s missionary visa and downgrading it to a temporary visa, as a result of having “engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa”. The Bureau of Immigration also ordered her to leave the country within 30 days.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and deportation order against Sister Patricia, which is an attempt by the Philippine Government to prevent her from continuing her work as a human rights defender, and particularly aims at sanctioning her defence of the rights of peasants, indigenous peoples, and the urban poor in the country.

The Observatory urges the Government of the Philippines to reconsider its decision and to allow Sister Patricia to continue working to support local communities in the country.

The Observatory further recalls with grave concern the increasingly hostile environment and surge of attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines under President Duterte.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the Philippines, urging them to:

i. Allow Sister Patricia Fox to stay in the Philippines and continue to carry out her human rights activities;

ii. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against Sister Patricia, as well as all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

· H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
· Mr. Alan Peter Cayetano, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Email: osec@dfa.gov.ph, Twitter: @alanpcayetano
· Hon. Menardo Guevarra, Secretary, Department of Justice of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email: communications@doj.gov.ph
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 929 0102, Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com
· Mr. Jaime Morente, Commissioner, Bureau of Immigration, Philippines, Fax: (+632) 309-7752,mail: binoc_immigration@hotmail.com, xinfo@immigration.gov.ph, immigPH@gmail.com, Twitter: @immigrationPH
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32 Email: mission@genevapm.ph
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 02 345 64 25, E-mail: brusselspe@gmail.com

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Philippines located in your country.

***
Geneva-Paris, May 3, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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