CHR eyes active handling of human rights cases
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday said it was eyeing the creation of a mechanism that would allow the state rights watchdog to actively handle cases — a move that, if seen to fruition, would allow it to do strategic litigation in cases involving victims of rights violations and human rights defenders.
In a speech marking the opening of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week, CHR Chair Richard Palpal-latoc said this was part of his agenda as the agency awaits the three other appointees to complete the sixth en banc.
“We intend to create a mechanism for strategic litigation where the commission, within its mandate, shall embark on the active handling of cases to strengthen the access to justice of human rights violations victims, as well as for the protection of human rights defenders,” he said.
“We shall improve the gathering of evidence in relation to the human rights investigations of the commission to foster and promote the right to a remedy of human rights violations victims, through fit-for-purpose methodologies and modern technology,” he added.
This could expand what the commission can do, as it is only limited to investigating cases in preparation for litigation.
While rights defenders were initially concerned — he used to be a law partner of former Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez—so far he has promised to “always focus on its avowed mandate to continue the prioritization of investigating violations of civil and political rights.”
He also promised to continue working on cases of abuses as well as the inhuman treatment in jails and prisons, forge more partnerships with civil society and legal groups in the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as intensify human rights education at the community level.
Other special measures
He said the commission would continue to call for the passage of other special measures on human rights, such as the law for human rights defenders and the establishment of special human rights courts, including a comprehensive law on human rights and redress for their violations.
He also called on Congress to support the commission by passing laws that protect and promote human rights, including those that will allow the CHR to better perform its work.