CHR hopeful gov’t will address UN official’s recommendations
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday acknowledged the preliminary findings of UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan on the situation of freedom of opinion and expression in the Philippines, saying it was looking forward to the government’s implementation of measures to address the gaps she identified.
“We are positive that the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur will be viewed as nonnegotiables to further improve the human rights situation of the country. Such will also show the Philippines’ fulfillment of its obligation to respect human rights standards at the national and international levels,” It said in a statement.
At the same time, the CHR said it recognized the need to improve the current conditions for Filipinos to exercise their right to express themselves, especially in the face of threats such as Red-tagging, violence against journalists and restrictive policies.
It added that it was reaffirming its call to partner with the government in ending the practice of Red-tagging, which it described as a human rights violation that could lead to other acts of violence that endanger the public.
At the same time, the CHR called on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) to review its mandate and adopt a human rights-based approach in addressing the insurgency problem.
“It must be noted that the CHR held a forum on Red-tagging last Dec. 6, 2023, where representatives from the civil society, alongside the NTF-Elcac, took part in discussions to gather insights on the matter and foster constructive dialogue among stakeholders.
This year, the CHR is slated to hold its inquiry into Red-tagging to further nuance the dialogue between the government and civil society on the harms brought by these actions to the life, liberty and security of the public,” it said.
Violence against media
It also echoed the call of Khan for the Presidential Task Force on Media Security to review its approach in investigating violence committed against journalists, and to establish a standard definition of a media worker.
“To further understand the dangers and challenges, which hinder journalists from fully performing their work, it is incumbent upon the Philippine government to recognize that their duty to deliver the truth to the public comes with a heavier risk in their safety,” the CHR said.
It added that it was looking forward to the measures to be taken by the government to address the problems identified by Khan while also continuing to fulfill its mandate.
These include promoting and protecting the freedom of expression in the country through activities such as holding a forum and an inquiry into Red-tagging, and providing policy advisories and training to relevant stakeholders.
Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, recently visited the Philippines upon the invitation of the government.
While in the country, she met with various officials, civil society groups, media organizations, and human rights defenders. Khan is expected to present her full report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2024. —RUSSEL LORETO INQ