Gov’t doing nothing to preserve rights, represses activists instead – Investigate PH
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has done nothing to preserve human rights and instead represses anyone who tries to defend it, international rights watchdog Investigate PH said on Tuesday.
“We don’t believe that there is good faith on the part of the government at this point to do anything but repress human rights defenders,” Jeanne Mirer, commission of Investigate PH said on Tuesday during the launching of the group’s first report on the Philippine human rights scenario.
According to Mirer, who is also the president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the measures placed by the Philippines to avoid rights abuses — like its vow to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to create a task force probing extrajudicial killings — are inadequate to address the issues presented.
Mirer and the rest of Investigate PH are currently doing a self-initiated probe of the country’s human rights status, as UNHRC did not adopt proposals to launch an investigation of the country. What UNHRC did instead was to compel member-states to extend technical assistance to the country as it conducts its own investigations.
“I think one of the key findings of this report is that the domestic remedies currently are not adequate,” Mirer said.
“And from everything that we have seen, especially with the rise in red-tagging, the rise in attacks, the use of the Anti-Terror Law, the approach of the government is not to preserve human rights but actually to try to repress anybody asking for human rights and to make it almost impossible for them to get any effective remedy,” she added.
The launch of the report on Tuesday is one of the steps taken by Investigate PH for the UNHRC to see the need for a probe on the human rights issues within the country.
The UNHRC’s refusal to do a full-blown probe of the Philippines is also one of the reasons the panel was created in the first place. During its launch last January, the group vowed to collate and submit reports of alleged rights abuses under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The report, said to be over 190 pages, has been submitted to UNHRC — which Mirer hoped would be enough to convince the body to push through with the probe.
“In that regard, the demand from the report is that the human rights council itself do an inquiry commission that would be based on international actors and the international community doing its own investigation, and in fact, supplementing what we are doing through that process,” she stressed.
Despite being popular, Duterte has been rocked by allegations of extrajudicial killings, first in the implementation of the drug war and later on against activists perceived to be members of communist organizations.
After the release of the UNHRC resolution, the Philippine government vowed to address the issue, with Duterte assuring the international community that the country was committed to prioritizing human rights.
The government has created a task force headed by the Department of Justice that would look into allegations of EJKs and other rights violations. However, local groups say the task force is all for show as abuses continued to be committed.
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