Bill seeking to protect human rights defenders filed in Senate
MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking to protect human rights defenders and penalize anyone who violates their civil liberties was filed by opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday.
In her Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2447, otherwise known as the “Human Rights Defenders Protection Act,” Hontiveros said rights defenders play crucial roles in promoting fundamental freedoms and the welfare of people.
“It is then alarming how human rights defenders are often targets and victims of harassment and persecution. They are treated with contempt even threatened with violence. Rights defenders are often subjected to summary execution, enforced disappearance, false labeling and red-tagging, and malicious prosecution,” Hontiveros stated in her bill.
According to the senator, the rights and freedoms that her bill seeks to respect, protect, and promote are as follows:
- Right to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms
- Right to form groups, associations, and organizations
- Right to peaceful assembly
- Right to seek, receive, and disseminate information
- Right to privacy
- Right to develop and advocate human rights ideas
- Right to solicit, receive, and utilize resources
- Right to access, communicate, and cooperate with international and regional human rights bodies and mechanisms
- Right to an effective remedy and full reparation
- Freedom from intimidation and reprisal
- Freedom of movement
If enacted into law, the creation and composition of a Human Rights Defenders Committee will be pushed.
This committee will act as an independent body that will be tasked to protect rights defenders from intimidation and reprisals and investigate all forms of violations of fundamental freedoms against them.
The measure likewise recommends the following penalties for anyone who will harm the rights of the defenders:
- For destroying, altering, or falsifying records or documents – A penalty of prision mayor in its minimum to medium period or a fine of P100,000 or both, at the discretion of the court
- For any other violations of this Act — A penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period or a fine of P100,000 or both, at the discretion of the court