UNHRC urged to probe EJK, rights violations in PH

Published September 14, 2020, 6:03 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Over 700 human rights advocates and civil society organizations called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to create an independent international investigation mechanism to probe the alleged extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the Philippines.

(Photo from KARAPATAN)

In a joint statement, the groups asked for an international probe on the country’s human rights situation because of the “fruitlessness and ineffectiveness”  domestic measures in exacting accountability for these killings and other human rights abuses under the Duterte administration.

”We have witnessed a long history of domestic inter-agency task forces and fact-finding commissions promising to act without fear or favor. But we repeatedly have been frustrated and even enraged by the fruitlessness and ineffectiveness of these so-called domestic accountability measures,” they told the UN council.

”Rather than help, these government bodies have even contributed to the infrastructure of impunity and miscarriage of justice against the victims of human rights violations,” their statement read. 

The 45th session of the UNHRC started on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland. It will run until October 6. 

This coincided with the Global Day of Action held by various groups around the world following the recent spate of killings of several activists and human rights defenders.

In Quezon City, human rights activists unfurled a big “Stop the Killings” banner in Liwasang Diokno at the Commission on Human Rights compound.

The statement, signed by women’s rights groups, social activists, lawyers, religious leaders, environmental and land rights defenders, noted the human rights situation in the country “took a turn for the worse.”

This, after the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act was signed by Duterte and peace consultant Randall Echanis, human rights activist Zara Alvarez, and Bayan Muna regional coordinator Jory Porquia were killed.

“We must put a stop to these unrelenting attacks now. And this worsening situation would not end as long as those who perpetrate them run free and unscathed. These perpetrators must be brought to justice before any court, tribunal or body that will act independently, with impartiality, and effectively, having allegiance to human rights and justice instead of powers that be,” they said.

“We need true accountability and genuine transparency in the inquiry into these human rights violations, removing the possibility that investigations would only shield and even absolve the persons liable for the crimes,” they added.

Among the signatories of the statement included Civicus, the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), and International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).

The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS), International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED), and rights groups from 38 countries were also signatories.