The Independent International Commission of Investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines, otherwise known as Investigate PH, has been launched this week in order to probe the human rights abuses and violations allegedly perpetrated by the current administration.
Investigate PH was created after the resolution of the 45th UN Human Rights Council session on the Philippine rights situation, also known as Resolution 45/L.38, last October 2020.
Its aim is to gather evidence on crimes against humanity in relation to President Duterte’s “war on drugs” and the persecution of human rights defenders and civil society organizations. Leaders of international lawyers’ groups, political leaders, and global church groups will help gather evidence.
Because the Philippine government did not do anything after the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) released its findings on the country, Investigate PH said it will be the one to do it.
“The gravity of the violations underlines why the world needs to know about these human rights abuses and to act to stop the crimes. I put it to everyone at this event that if we were Filipinos, we would surely have suffered under the Duterte government. The evidence is overwhelming. The testimonies [are] tragic,” stressed Investigate PH Commissioner Lee Rhiannon and former Senator of Australia.
The commissioners of Investigate PH are comprised of Rhiannon; Atty. Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers; Atty. Jan De Lien of the Justis Lawyers Group of Belgium; Atty. Suzanne Adely, President of the National Lawyers Guild; Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs; Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches; Rev. Michael Blair, General Secretary of United Church of Canada; Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society, the United Methodist Church; Archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of Netherlands; and Central Committee member, World Council of Churches Dr. David Edwards, General Secretary of the Education International.
After its international probe, Investigate PH will submit its findings by way of oral interventions and submissions at Enhanced Interactive Dialogues and General Debates in the upcoming UNHRC Regular Sessions.
Two preliminary reports will be released in time for the 46th and 47th UNHRC sessions in March and July 2021 respectively, and one final report in time for the 48th UNHRC session in September when the High Commissioner will deliver an update on the implementation of Resolution 45/L.38.
“We are preparing a submission on these crimes to go to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” said Rhiannon, adding that “what is happening in the Philippines amounts to crimes against humanity. These crimes must end.”
Investigate PH will also submit its findings to the ICC.