Gov’t engages in actions that prevent protection of human rights workers, CHR’s report says | Inquirer News

Gov’t engages in actions that prevent protection of human rights workers, CHR’s report says

/ 08:30 PM July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A national inquiry from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has concluded that the government “purposely” engaged in activities that prevented the fulfillment of an international declaration protecting human rights workers.

According to CHR’s Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines released to media organizations on Friday, the government failed to adopt the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders — a declaration adopted by UN member-states in 1998.

The Declaration was meant to shield human rights defenders, which have been vulnerable to various threats — whether due to wartime or government pressure.


“The Commission finds that the Government, beyond failing to adopt the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, purposely engages in acts that frustrate the fulfillment of the rights provided therein,” CHR said in their report’s conclusion part.


“The Commission reminds the State of its obligation to promote and protect human rights without discrimination. This ‘includes both negative and positive aspects. On the one hand, States must refrain from violating human rights’  and actively renounce and desist from conducting activities that infringe on basic human rights,” CHR added, citing a note from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

The commission said that the inquiry was conceptualized last April 2019, in response to allegations that there were attempts from the government to silence and intimidate human rights defenders (HRDs).

Recently, activists have called out the government for supposed attacks against human rights workers — the recent being the arrest of a pastor accused of involvement in an ambush perpetrated by the New People’s Army.

Rights group Karapatan has slammed the arrest, calling it a manifestation of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

CHR has often drawn flak from netizens supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte, as they expressed alarm over the spate of killings during the government’s drug war — which administration sympathizers saw as merely a chance to criticize the Chief Executive.

Eventually, some of Duterte’s supporters also claimed that the body has been siding with communist rebels as they supposedly more keen on defending human rights workers affiliated with leftist groups.


CHR maintained in their report that most of the organizations “do not subscribe to violent means”, and are just concerned about protecting the rights of the people.

Instead, they said that the government should refrain from Red-tagging HRDs, and release those in detention including Senator Leila de Lima who is detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Camp Crame Custodial Center.

The commission also stressed that they do not condone violence — whether it be from the government’s side or from activists — saying that they are disappointed with a group’s decision to illegally occupy a government housing project.

Though CHR did not mention it, urban poor group Kadamay gained notoriety after taking over a housing program in Pandi, Bulacan in 2017, which was originally intended for police officers.

“Pursuant to the State’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, the Commission recommends that the Executive […] desist from red-tagging and labeling HRDs as terrorists or enemies of the State, and other similar acts, based solely on the fact that such individuals and organizations are HRDs,” CHR said.

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“[The Executive should] combat impunity by preventing abuses against HRDs, investigating all allegations of extrajudicial killings of HRDs, and prosecuting and punishing all those guilty of such criminal acts,” they added. [ac]

TAGS: CHR, HRDs, Karapatan, Philippine news updates

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