Government’s outrageous defense of human rights onslaught slammed

Press release

(Geneva, Manila, Paris) The Philippine government’s response to the United Nations (UN)-backed review is utterly inadequate in light of the magnitude of human rights violations occurring in the country, FIDH and its member organization PAHRA said today. The outcome of the Philippines’ third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was officially adopted on 22 September 2017 during the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The government’s response to the international community’s legitimate concerns with regard to key human rights issues is as outrageous as President Duterte’s violent rhetoric. The government must immediately change tack and address human rights issues of concern in accordance with the Philippines’ international obligations.”

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

During its third UPR, the Philippines did not accept 154 of the 257 (or 60%) of the recommendations it received from other UN member states. Among the recommendations that the Philippine government refused to accept were: all 44 related to extrajudicial killings; all 23 that called for the Philippines to refrain from reinstating the death penalty; all 18 concerning enforced disappearances; and all 13 on the protection of human rights defenders and journalists.

Concerning extrajudicial killings, the government did not accept recommendations that called on the Philippines to end extrajudicial killings; investigate past cases; eradicate impunity for violators; or extend an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The government also made the ludicrous claim that the more than 12,000 cases of extrajudicial killings perpetrated as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called ‘war on drugs’ were deaths that arose from “legitimate law enforcement operations” or deaths that required further investigation.

With regard to the death penalty, the government asserted that concerns over the reintroduction of the death penalty would have to be “subject to further deliberations in the Philippine Congress […], the outcome of which the state cannot influence.” This position is at odds with the government’s statement, made during the Interactive Dialogue for the Philippines’ UPR on 8 May 2017, that it was “committed to meeting its obligations arising from the treaties it had ratified.” This inconsistency is reinforced by the fact that the government did not accept any of the recommendations that called on the Philippines to respect its obligations under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (OP2-ICCPR), aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. The Philippines ratified OP2-ICCPR in 2007.

FIDH and PAHRA also condemn the government’s failure to accept any of the recommendations that called for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists, “in particular regarding enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.” Under President Duterte, human rights defenders face an increasingly hostile environment and have reported experiencing difficulties in carrying out their human rights activities.

“The message the government is sending to human rights defenders is that they cannot expect any protection from the authorities. This is extremely worrying in a country that has a track record of attacks, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, against human rights defenders.”

Rose Trajano, PAHRA Secretary General and FIDH Vice-President
Press contacts
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
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