‘Put past horrors behind,’ UN rapporteur urges Bongbong Marcos | Inquirer News

‘Put past horrors behind,’ UN rapporteur urges Bongbong Marcos

/ 05:40 AM November 13, 2022

A UN special rapporteur has urged the Marcos administration to integrate multinational recommendations on human rights into Philippine laws and policies as she expressed dismay over the few actions the government has taken since its last human rights review under former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It’s not rocket science, but it does require political will,” said Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, in a video message to local rights group Karapatan.


Lawlor, human rights advocate for more than 20 years, was referring to the 11 recommendations made by member-states of the UN Human Rights Council during the last universal periodic review of the Philippines’ human rights situation.

“If the new government wants to put the past horrors behind and demonstrate that it meets its human rights obligations, then the [universal periodic review] process presents a perfect opportunity to do so,” she said.


Another review

On Monday, the Philippines is set to undergo another Human Rights Council review to be presided by Poland, Marshall Islands and Namibia at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Philippines will be represented by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.

This review is distinct from the one conducted last October by the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees compliance with the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“I hope to see the government of the Philippines rise to the challenges of tackling the recommendations from other states,” Lawlor said. “Luckily, the government of the Philippines can count on the decades of experience of human rights defenders who do this work and know its risks.”

Lawlor, an Irish woman who once headed the Ireland branch of Amnesty International, said she wants to work closer with the government in protecting human rights defenders.

Lawlor was named special rapporteur in 2020, succeeding Michel Frost, but she was aware of the Philippine situation even then and found it “quite unsettling” that the 11 recommendations in May 2017 were not acted upon.


The recommendations included a halt to counterinsurgency programs “that target human rights defenders and civilians,” providing adequate protection for rights defenders, investigating the killings of human rights defenders and promoting a safe work environment, among others.

“None of the 11 human rights defender recommendations were accepted by the government, and I have been disheartened and upset when I write time and time again to the government about human rights defenders in the Philippines who are killed, kidnapped, attacked, surveilled and detained, red-tagged and accused of being terrorists,” she said in her video message.


But she was “delighted” about the proposed Human Rights Defenders Act that the House of Representatives passed in January, but the Senate has yet to act whether it would pass a similar measure.

Lawlor encouraged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to work on the passage of the bill and ensure that it is enacted into law.

She also called on the Marcos administration to promptly and impartially investigate any killing or disappearance of a human rights defender as well as train security forces on protecting rights defenders. INQ


UN rapporteur due in November

Civil society groups to tackle PH human rights in UN review

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