Posts Tagged ‘Duterte’

Human rights defenders in Asia suffer reprisals says Gilmour

May 18, 2018

On 18 May 2018 several newspapers – such as The Guardian and Scoop (NZ) – carried a piece by Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights based in New York, which describes with great frankness how human rights defenders in Asia are under attack. To quote liberally:

In February, hundreds of Filipino participants in the peace process, environmental activists and human rights defenders were labeled “terrorists” by their own government. The security of the individuals on this list is at stake, and some have fled the Philippines. The UN independent expert on the rights of indigenous peoples – Victoria Tauli-Corpuz – was on this list. This followed the vilification only months before of another UN independent expert – Agnès Callamard – who deals with extra-judicial executions. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared that he wanted to slap her, and later announced that he would like to throw other UN human rights officials to the crocodiles. The national Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines was threatened with a zero budget and its former chair, Senator Leila de Lima, is in detention for her advocacy. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/10/there-seems-to-be-no-limit-to-what-duterte-is-willing-to-say-and-may-get-away-with/]

…..If governments in the region can target high profile human rights defenders and those associated with the UN with impunity, what is the message to others at community level who are not afforded the same visibility? ..

In the run up to the 2018 national elections in Cambodia, the Government has cracked down on the opposition, independent media and civil society. ..

In Myanmar, there were reports of violent reprisals by Tatmadaw, the armed forces, against civilians who met with Yanghee Lee, UN independent expert on Myanmar, following her visit to Rakhine State. …..

Bogus accusations of abetting terrorism are a common justification that we hear from governments to defend the targeting of the UN’s important civil society partners. We have countless cases of advocates charged with terrorism, blamed for cooperation with foreign entities, or accused of damaging the reputation or security of the state.

I recently met with a group of human rights defenders from across South-East and South Asia about their experiences, which in some cases have been made worse by speaking out or if they share information with the UN. The stories about these reprisals were common – they have been charged with defamation, blasphemy and disinformation. They are increasingly threatened and targeted for their work, indeed some have been labeled as terrorists. There were also accusations of activists being drug addicts or mentally unwell.

Some governments feel threatened by any dissent. They label human rights concerns as “illegal outside interference” in their internal affairs; or as an attempt to overthrow regimes; or as an attempt to impose alien “Western” values.

Opposition to economic development and investment projects seems to incite particular ire. Agribusiness, extractive industries, and large-scale energy initiatives, including those that involve indigenous peoples’ land, often bear the brunt of the backlash.

Women’s rights activists and advocates of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons seem to be particularly targeted. Many are ostracized by their communities, labelled as outcasts, or branded as immoral. Sexual violence is part of this backlash, including rape threats.

Those working for religious freedom have been called ‘anti-Islam’, they and their families threatened or harassed. When advocacy for religious tolerance intersects with that of women’s rights and sexual freedom, the stakes can be even higher.

……

We are taking these allegations seriously, and addressing particular incidents of reprisals with governments. Civil society has to be heard – for the sake of us all.


For more of my posts on reprisals: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/reprisals/

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1805/S00115/human-rights-advocates-in-asia-under-attack.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/18/imprisoned-threatened-silenced-human-rights-workers-across-asia-are-in-danger

 

Human rights reporting in Asia still honors its champions

May 17, 2018

The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) was established in 1982 to recognize and celebrate the highest standards of journalistic quality and integrity in Asia.  Today, the SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence are regarded as the gold standard against which Asia’s best journalists and publishers are measured. There are several categories and one of them is: Excellence in Human Rights Reporting, honoring the work that demonstrates high standards of reporting on a human rights topic of significance

The 2018 finalists include:

Reuters, Duterte’s war falters
The Associated Press, The Rohingya Exodus
The New York Times, A Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds

Frontier Myanmar, “We eat the same rice”
The Phnom Penh Post, The sky became white’
This Week In Asia, Rohingya: nowhere like home.

[The 2017 winners were:

https://www.sopawards.com/awards/award-categories/

https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/frontier-shortlisted-for-five-regional-media-awardshttps://frontiermyanmar.net/en/frontier-shortlisted-for-five-regional-media-awards

Meet some of the women human rights defenders on Duterte’s list of 500

March 17, 2018

There seems to be no limit to what Duterte is willing to say – and may get away with

March 10, 2018

Most likely you have seen the reports about the UN High Commissioner of Human Right suggesting that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterteneeds to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation” over his “unacceptable” remarks about some Special Rapporteurs. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein demanded – rightly – that the Human Rights Council, of which the Philippines is a member, “must take a strong position” on the issue and that “these attacks cannot go unanswered.”

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, the rights chief referred to a court petition filed last month by Duterte’s government accusing the U.N. rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and others of being members of a key communist rebel group. The Filipino President had repeatedly insulted the U.N. expert on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, lashing out at her for raising alarm over the thousands of suspects killed under his anti-drug crackdown. He has also taken aim at International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who announced last month that she was opening a preliminary examination into alleged extrajudicial drug killings. In a speech Wednesday, Duterte insulted the international court’s justices as “dumb” and “evil,” and said Callamard was “thin” and “undernourished.” Using an expletive, he warned, “Don’t (mess) with me, girls.

Almost laughably “deaf’ to the language used his own President, the Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano blasted Zeid’s remarks as “irresponsible and disrespectful” and said the “unmeasured outburst” demeaned the Philippine president and should not be repeated.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, was listed as a member of the Maoist rebel group. She has denied the allegations. “The charges are entirely baseless and malicious,” Tauli-Corpuz told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview. “The government sees this as an opportunity to pursue people they don’t like. I am worried for my safety and the safety of others on the list, including several rights activists.” Local and international organizations have slammed the Philippine government’s action, with New York-based Human Rights Watch calling the petition “a virtual government hit list”. Two other U.N. special rapporteurs expressed “grave concern” about Tauli-Corpuz being on the list, and said she was being punished by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for speaking out against some of his policies.

Duterte, Hun Sen nominated for 2017 Confucius Peace (of the graveyard) Prize

December 6, 2017

2017-05-11T120000Z_1745229718_RC1506183260_RTRMADP_3_WEF-ASEAN-940x580

Even if one is aware of the difference between a peace prize and a human rights award (see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/05/geneva-the-right-place-for-the-worlds-human-rights-award/), the nomination of Duterte and Hun Sen as candidates for the Confucius Peace Prize seems almost cynical.

The  informs us on a year of bloody campaigns, infringements on human rights and accusations of authoritarianism, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen seem like unlikely candidates to be included in a shortlist of nominees for a peace prize. But the 2017 Confucius Peace Prize, labelled the Chinese alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, has selected the two Southeast Asian leaders for this year’s award.

Awarded by a private company, the Confucius awards have courted controversy since their foundation in 2010. Originally set up under the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts in China, then-chairman Tan Changliu claimed the award existed to “promote world peace from an Eastern perspective.” But the award has since been banned by China’s Culture Ministry, forcing the organisers to relocate to Hong Kong. The renamed China International Peace Research Center has presented the award to a string of authoritarian political figures who favour a pro-Beijing stance. In 2015, the recipient was former Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who was accused of a “litany of human rights abuses” over his 37-year term. The organiser cited his “contribution to peace in Africa,” but the award drew widespread international criticism. Mugabe declined to accept the award, which comes with US$15,000 prize money. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/23/mugabe-wins-chinese-peace-prize-this-time-for-real/]

Other winners include Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, former Cuba’s president Fidel Castro, and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The winners are announced in early December.

Read more at https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/12/duterte-hun-sen-nominated-2017-confucius-peace-prize/#kpW31LjFIIJ4A407.99

New coalition of Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines tries to deal with killings

November 4, 2017

Read the rest of this entry »

Philippines senator De Lima gets liberal human rights award

November 1, 2017

 Liberal International (LI) – the global federation of liberal parties – is giving its Prize for Freedom to Senator Leila de Lima, whom the organization described as a “political prisoner” and a critic of authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte. In its news release of Tuesday, 30 October 2017, the LI said “Politicians from around the world voted to award Liberal International’s highest human rights honor – the Prize for Freedom – to imprisoned Philippines political prisoner, Senator Leila de Lima,” it said. “Senator De Lima, a vocal and ardent critic [of] the Philippines authoritarian president Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called ‘war of drugs’, has been held in pre-trial detention on politically motivated charges since February 2017” .

De Lima is presently detained at the Philippine National Police’s (PNP), Quezon City over allegations that she was involved in the illegal drug trade inside that national penitentiary during her stint as Justice secretary. De Lima has repeatedly denied the charges against her, saying she is a victim of political persecution.

For more info on this award and another 18 awards with ‘freedom’ in their namehttp://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/

Source: De Lima gets human rights award | News | GMA News Online

Philippines shows the weakness of the UPR system: spinning only on one side

September 23, 2017

On 23 September 2017 quite a number of observers and some media responded to the ill-deserved claim by the Philippines Government that it has scored a “big victory” in the UN’s UPR (Universal Periodic Review).  The problem remains that the UN itself does not have the outreach and ‘spinning’ capacity to counter the propaganda spread, especially at the national level in the Philippines.

Seat of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. UN Brief photo

In reality it was ignoring important issues raised and rejected key recommendations made by other States. The Philippine delegation on Friday at the session in Geneva accepted only 103 out of 257 recommendations made by member-states. On Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs claimed the country “scored a big victory in Geneva” when the UN body “overwhelmingly adopted Manila’s human rights report card.” (Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed the “adoption” of Manila’s report means that the country “has nothing to hide with its human rights record.“)  [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/02/duterte-is-wrong-human-rights-defenders-are-beautiful/]

Adoption of the UPR outcome report, however, cover both the report by the Philippines’ and also the other states’ positions on its human rights record, which included calls to investigate killings (the final document “consists of the questions, comments and recommendations made by States to the country under review, as well as the responses by the reviewed State,” according to a UN human rights office’s brief on its website.)

While member-states welcomed the Philippines’ acceptance of some of the recommendations such as on poverty and education, many expressed concern over its decision not to take action on most of the points raised. Key recommendations merely “noted” by the Philippines—a move interpreted as a rejection by observers—include 44 related to extrajudicial killings in the Duterte government’s campaign against illegal drugs. The Philippines also snubbed recommendations relating to the protection of journalists and human rights defenders, as well as those urging it to lift conditions to allow access of the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings.

A farce”. This was how human-rights group Karapatan described the Philippine government’s supposed “victory”. Karapatan secretary general Tinay Palabay said on Saturday the Philippine government delegation to Geneva “conveniently glosses over” the fact that it did not accept a number recommendation that aimed to resolve pressing issues on human rights. The Philippine delegation, however, practically denied before the UN body the existence of extrajudicial killings in the drug war despite the increasing number of deaths of suspects without trial.

International watchdog Human Rights Watch also reminded the Philippines to cooperate as a member of the council in all of its mechanisms, such as in allowing the special rapporteur without conditions to look into cases in the Philippines.

Sources: Ignoring issues raised, Philippines claims ‘victory’ in UN review | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com

http://www.interaksyon.com/dedma-blues-human-rights-watch-dismayed-at-ph-rejection-of-review-recommendations/

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/160441/karapatan-downplays-ph-delegates-victory-unhrc-united-nations-unhrc-dfa-cayetano-karapatan-human-rights-group#ixzz4tUkOfpcR

Fake news also in the human rights arena: who would give a Human Rights award to Duterte?

December 21, 2016

Republished as some readers could not properly see the post: This blog has a special interest in human rights awards, so I noted with dismay that according to some obscure sources President Duterte of the Philippines had been given an international human rights award.  The announcement looked like this:

“International Human Rights Committee to Award President Duterte = AUGUST 18, 2016

DUTERTE AWARD

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been named as one of the honorees in the annual Human Rights Award by the International Human Rights Committee.”

Unable to find any confirmation elsewhere I wrote to the American Bar Association which has an award and an ‘International Human Rights Committee’. No reply received yet but in the meantime I saw yesterday the “Fake news alert!” published on December 14, 2016 in Busted. And indeed it seems that fake news has also entered the human rights awards arena:

Various Facebook Duterte supporter groups such as “Duterte Warriors”, “Duterte News Global”, and “Duterte Media” have been sharing news of President Duterte being awarded by the International Human Rights Committee. According to the news article sourced from Trending News PH, President Rodrigo Duterte was named as one of the honorees in the annual Human Rights Award held by the International Human Rights Committee. This “committee” was said to have bestowed this award to Duterte for his “exemplary service in the promotion of human rights.” However, the said article is not linked to any other source and no major news outlets have reported on the headline. Furthermore, upon closer inspection, there are numerous inconsistencies on the dates the groups posted the article. The article itself was posted 4 months ago while the groups posted on September and October, with the “Duterte Warriors” group sharing the post twice, once in August and another in September. What was the point of posting the same news article more than once and on different months?

Moreover, the photo used in the article was originally a photo taken during LPU’s Quality Awards Convocation wherein Duterte, still a mayor that time, was awarded as the Most Outstanding Alumnus of Lyceum of the Philippines University in 2015. [http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/677750/duterte-is-lpus-outstanding-alumnus]

Even if it would turn out that some biased or incompetent committee did bestow a minor award, it does not change the fact that Duterte has  issues with human rights defenders for the way he is conducting his war on drugs. In fact, recently, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs demanded that Duterte should renounce his earlier statement that seemed to threaten the lawyers of alleged drug dealers. “Duterte’s threats against lawyers and human rights defenders constitute a dangerous extension of his abusive ‘war on drugs’ that has already resulted in more than 5,000 killings,” HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/02/duterte-is-wrong-human-rights-defenders-are-beautiful/

See also Front Line Defenders on 1 December: “On 28 November 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened (<http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/848933/duterte-threatens-to-kill-human-rights-activists-if-drug-problem-worsens)> to kill human rights defenders in the Philippines in his speech in Malacañang. “The human rights (defenders) said I ordered the killings. I told them, ‘OK Let’s stop. We’ll let them (drug users) multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die, I will include you  because you are the reason why their numbers swell,” referring to human rights defenders.`

Sources:

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/12/03/1649760/duterte-urged-retract-kill-threat-vs-hr-activists

http://www.vocativ.com/379354/philippines-online-army/

Busted: International Human Rights award given to Duterte? Fake news alert!

Marcos burial decision causes controversy in Philippines

November 17, 2016

ABS-CBN News reported on 13 November 2016 on an interesting protest in the Philippines. A group of black-clad lawyers and human rights defenders trooped to the Bar examinations Sunday to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery. Led by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), the group mounted their “Black to Block” protest with chants of “Marcos no hero, no honor” in front the bar exam venue. [Voting 9-5 with one abstention, the SC last week ruled that President Duterte’s move to allow the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani did not break any laws nor did it show a grave abuse of discretion.]

In an open letter, the NUPL reminded the bar examinees of their duty to use their knowledge and skills to defend justice …..The country needs good lawyers, especially now that “the law is being downtrodden and diminished by skewed reinterpretation”. “Our rage is as dark as the night; our memory just as long. We will continue to rage as we mourn. But we will help change things. Who knows, we might, with the power of the people scorned, even be able to put sense in the heads of the gods and show their way clear.” Concluding their letter, the NUPL told aspiring lawyers, “Do well in the bar examinations. But be mindful what this is all for. From your ranks may also come those who will exorcise the demons in our midst, dead or living. Your people — and Lady Justice — are waiting for you.

The protesters earlier urged bar examinees to show support for Sunday’s mass action by wearing black shirts, but most of the bar candidates were dressed in their school colors.

In the meantime, the group has filed another motion asking the court to hold in abeyance or refrain from executing any plans on the burial pending the finality of the SC ruling.

 

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/11/13/16/lawyers-rights-advocates-mourn-marcos-burial-at-bar-exams

Gordon says PH should help poor, not focus on Marcos burial | ABS-CBN News