Philippines: Threats and acts of intimidation against Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan

18/08/2017
Urgent Appeal

PHL 001 / 0817 / OBS 088
Threats / Intimidation
Philippines
August 17, 2017

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 situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about threats and acts of intimidation against Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General of the human rights NGO “Karapatan”.

According to the information received, o n July 20, 2017, at around 10:20 p.m., Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay received a phone call from a man who repeatedly asked her if she was “Tinay Palabay” and refused to tell her his name. He told Ms. Palabay that she should stop what she was doing, referring to her human rights work, because she was on a “list” of people whom they considered as “courageous,” and that he called because she was within his “AOR” (interpreted as “area of responsibility”). He accused Ms. Palabay of being involved in the alleged ambush of June 19, 2017, of the Presidential Security Group by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao. Ms. Palabay denied knowledge of and involvement in the reported incident, as she was at that time in Manila leading the preparations for peaceful protests ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address and his request for an extension of martial law in Mindanao. The caller also repeatedly asked about Ms. Palabay’s whereabouts, and warned her to be careful because he would soon meet her.

Ms. Palabay immediately recounted on Facebook the incident and made public the threats she received. After searching the caller’s cellphone number (+639260779448 ), it appeared that the number belongs to a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Safety Battalion.

On August 16, 2017, a complaint to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights was submitted by Karapatan.

Ms. Palabay is an independent observer in the Joint Monitoring Committee of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). She is also a member of the organizing committee of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), an advisor to the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights (UAF). In April 2017, Ms. Palabay and three other Filipino activists conducted a speaking tour in the US on the human rights situation in the Philippines and the GRP-NDFP peace talks. She also participated in the May 2017 Carter Center Human Rights Defenders Forum, organized by former US President Jimmy Carter in Atlanta, US.

The Observatory strongly condemns the above-mentioned threats and acts of intimidation against Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, which seem to only aim at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities, in a context of increasing threats against human rights defenders in the Philippines, where human rights defenders are regularly accused of being “enemies of the State”.

The Observatory calls upon the authorities in the Philippines to take immediate action to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay and to order immediate, impartial, independent, and effective investigations into the death threats and other acts of intimidation against her.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, as well as that of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

ii. Order immediate, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigations into the death threats and other acts of intimidation against Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, in order to identify those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to all acts harassment and intimidation against Ms. Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, and all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrances ;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

· H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philpinnes, Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
· Hon. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Fax: +63 (2) 638 2216, Email : stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net
· Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary, Department of National Defense, Fax: +63(2) 982-5600, Email: info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph
· Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email: communications@doj.gov.ph
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, Fax: (+632) 929 0102, Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com
· 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, Email: brusselspe@gmail.com

Please also write to the embassy of the Philippines in your respective country.

***
Geneva-Paris, August 17, 2017

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 intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT 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 FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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