Global alliance starts probing PH’s human rights status independently
MANILA, Philippines — A group composed of various global organizations, religious sects, political personalities and other groups has started its goal of investigating the country’s human rights status independently.
According to Investigate PH, the project came after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to pull back on proposals to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in the Philippines, supposedly during the implementation of the government’s war against illegal drugs.
Investigate PH member and International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippine (ICHRP) chair Peter Murphy said on Thursday that they instead chose to tap civil society organizations willing to probe the country, especially as the global panel does not believe President Rodrigo Duterte’s government would investigate itself.
“This project was decided on in October last year, immediately following the decision of the [UNHRC] to provide technical assistance to the government of the Philippines for its human rights capacities, rather than to authorize an independent international commission of investigation,” Murphy, who moderated the online press launch of Investigate PH, said.
“So faced with this — which was a very much setback from our point of view —we decided that we would ask the civil society to take on this task in any case, so that’s what we’ve done, and we now have a 10-person high-level commission to lead this project,” he added.
Investigate PH Global Launch – Asia-Pacific
INVESTIGATE PH is an initiative of global organisations, religious and political leaders, and civil society all over the world concerned about the state of human rights in the Philippines. We are currently holding independent investigations on the human rights violations in the country.
Posted by Investigate PH on Wednesday, January 27, 2021
The global groups and personalities, like ICHRP, the United Methodist Church, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, former Australian senator Lee Rhiannon, would work with local partner organizations to check on the alleged rights abuses.
Duterte has been hailed by his anti-drug program supporters, which prompted numerous drug users and drug dependents to surrender. Still, his administration has been accused of disregarding human rights in the conduct of police and military operations.
While there are several alleged rights violations, only one case — that of slain teenager Kian delos Santos, killed in August 2017 during a drug operation — has been solved.
In the Delos Santos case, three police officers from Caloocan were found guilty of murder after it was proven that the victim was shot point-blank despite pleading with the police officers, and even if he was not the target of the actual drug operation.
READ: 3 policemen guilty of killing Kian delos Santos — court
During the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, various spates of killings occurred, both at the hands of law enforcers and those blamed on them. In August 2020, peasant leader Randall Echanis and rights defender Zara Alvarez were killed just a week apart.
Activists blame state forces for the attacks even if the government has repeatedly insisted that they have no part in the killings.
ICHRP said recently that the case of Cordillera indigenous people leader Windel Bolinget would be included among the cases that would be investigated.
“We are determined to pursue the case of indigenous peoples activist Windel Bolinget in this ongoing independent investigation. The absurd cases filed against him causing fear for his life and the safety of his family are testaments to the terror human rights defenders face in the Philippines,” Murphy said.
After the UNHRC passed a resolution calling for the extension of technical assistance to the country, several groups were disappointed. It meant that a probe of the country’s human rights status would not happen.
READ: Kin of drug war victims disappointed with UNHRC swerving from a probe
READ: UNHRC resolution: No drug war probe but support, cooperation for PH efforts on human rights
In response, the government said that they are already looking into the over 5,500 deaths in the drug war, along with the assurance from Duterte that the country remains committed to promoting human rights.
READ: Duterte: PH seriously committed to prioritizing human rights
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