Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

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

Important side event on Thursday 21 September 2017: Ending Reprisals

September 19, 2017

organizes on 21 September 2017 an important side event: “Ending Reprisals: Discussion with Human Rights Defenders and Experts”. The purpose of this discussion is to contribute to the critical debate on developing and strengthening procedures to prevent and address reprisals at the UN, ensuring that the voices of defenders are at the front and centre of the discussion.

This panel coincides with the presentation of the Secretary-General’s annual report on Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights (‘the reprisals report’) at the Council’s current session. [for some of my earlier posts on this crucial topic see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/reprisals/]

Panelists: 

  • Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
  • Peggy Hicks, Director of Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, OHCHR
  • Claudia Samayoa (UDEFEGUA), Human Rights Defender from Guatemala
  • Ellecer Carlos (iDEFEND & PAHRA), Human Rights Defender from the Philippines
  • Women human rights defender from Burundi, member of the MFFPS

Moderator:   Tess McEvoy, Legal Counsel, ISHR

(Attendance with UNOG pass only.)

Source: Invitation: Thursday 21 September, 3.00pm – Ending Reprisals: Discussion with Human Rights Defenders and Experts

Profile of Father Rosaleo Romano who disappeared 30 years ago in the Philippines

August 6, 2017

Human rights defender Mary Aileen Bacalso in the Philippines published a blog post in La Croix International of 3 August 2017 entitled “The imperative of more shepherds for the Lord’s flock“. It describes the case of  Redemptorist Father Rosaleo Romano who disappeared 3 decades ago and makes the point that pastors like him are now needed more than ever.
Victims of enforced disappearances in the Philippines, including Redemptorist Father Rosaleo Romano, are remembered during a memorial in Manila. (Photo by Rob Reyes)

The Philippine human rights community has not forgotten Father Rosaleo Romano more than three decades after his disappearance during the dark years of the dictatorship. A “man of the cloth”, Father Romano, “Rudy” to his friends, one of the staunchest human rights defenders during those years, was forcibly made to disappear by the military…Father Rudy did not live his spirituality in the confines of convent walls. He meaningfully lived it out through his apostolate with poor farmers, with striking factory workers, with the poor whose shanties were demolished in the name of development, and with students struggling for academic freedom. The priests consequently suffered persecution during that most obscure time of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

In his white cassock, Father Rudy would confront soldiers with their batons and shields. He would link arms with protesters, and suffered arrest and stayed behind the bars of prisons several times. The persecutions did not cow him from following the footsteps of the “Most Holy Redeemer”. It strengthened his resolve to fully embrace the consequences of his actions. “If I die, you will know who killed me,” he told his parents from the province of Samar. He paid the price for concretizing the church’s teaching of preferential option for the poor. He became, and remains to be, one of the more than 2,000 documented cases of disappearances during the Marcos years. The disappearance of the Redemptorist priest brought thousands of people in the central Philippine province of Cebu out in the streets during those years. The perpetrators’ act of cowardice of abducting a committed pastor resulted in an outrage not only among the organized masses in the country but even among international solidarity groups.

More than three decades have passed. There is no trace of Father Rudy’s whereabouts. In a country battered by burning human rights issues, and with the silence of Filipinos who continue to place their trust in a president who openly attacked human rights defenders, the Catholic Church in the Philippines needs to relive the example of Father Rudy. It is sad that there seems to be a dearth of people with the Redemptorist’s zeal and commitment these days. Have we given justice to Father Rudy’s very ideals that earned for him the status of one of the most well-known desaparecidos during the Marcos era? Have his sacrifices in opting for the poor, the deprived, and the oppressed borne fruits for freedom and democracy? Has his exemplary life multiplied a hundredfold through the proliferation of people who are following his footsteps?

Father Rudy’s name is carved on the “Flame of Courage” built by the Redemptorist congregation in Manila in 1994. With hundreds of names of Filipino desaparecidos, the monument of a mother holding a torch and a child holding a picture of his disappeared father manifests the never-ending hope against hope that one day, the long-awaited reunification of families will be realized.

The dream of a “new heaven and a new earth” is far from being realized in this predominantly Catholic country where the teachings of love and justice are blatantly ignored. The “people of God” need, more than ever, pastors who are willing to offer their lives so that others may live.

[Mary Aileen Bacalso is secretary-general of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/12/23/filippines-hrd-wins-emilio-mignone-award-for-work-against-enforced-disappearances/]

Source: The imperative of more shepherds for the Lord’s flock – La Croix International

Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, speaks very freely at the United Nations Association of the USA

June 21, 2017

In a little-noted speech at the Leadership Summit of the United Nations Association of the USA (Washington, D.C., 12 June 2017) Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, tackles populism and does not mince his words.  After viewing a Chaeli video [see e.g. https://www.worldofchildren.org/honoree/michaela-chaeli-mycroft/] to illustrate the message that “we can all make a difference for human rights. Every day, everywhere, at school or the workplace, commuting, or on holiday. It starts with each of us taking concrete steps to exercise our rights and our responsibility to protect and defend the rights of others“, Gilmour describes how after 3 decades of progress for human rights we have come up against a serious backlash, one that takes many forms but all of them counter to the values of rights, freedoms and tolerance. The text is worth reproducing as a whole: Read the rest of this entry »

Training initiative for indigenous human rights defenders in Philippines and Bangladesh

May 16, 2017

Amidst reports about the rising toll among human rights defenders around the world, especially in rural areas, this initiative must me welcome. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/01/violence-against-environmental-human-rights-defenders-one-of-the-worst-trends-in-recent-years/]
Rights push launched for Philippine, Bangladesh tribes
Representatives of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Relief International pose for a souvenir picture during the launch of the human rights program in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of the Rural Missionaries)

On 15 May, 2017 ucanews reports that the NGO Relief International has simultaneously launched a project in the Philippines and Bangladesh aimed at training human rights defenders in tribal communities. In the Philippines, Relief International has partnered with the Rural Missionaries “to scale up” the faith-base group’s human rights intervention for tribal people in Mindanao. “This new initiative will promote and protect human rights of vulnerable indigenous communities,” said Sister Famita Somogod, coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.

Read the rest of this entry »

International Women’s Day 2017: honoring, defending and watching women human rights defenders

March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day focuses on many different aspects of the struggle for the human rights of women. I have selected three special actions this year:

(1) a short piece honoring woman who are land rights defenders;

(2) a digital protection tool for women human rights defenders (Cyberwomen);

(3) a documentary film on how rape was made into a international war crime.

[Of course this blog has had many earlier posts on women human rights defenders: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/ ] Read the rest of this entry »

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!

Sampling International Human Rights Day 2016: be a human rights defender. .

December 9, 2016

International Human Rights Day commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organisations to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day. The theme this year is: Stand up for someone’s rights today, in other words: be a human rights defender. .

There is a lot going on during this period, so I just give a small sample (10!) from different parts of the world: Read the rest of this entry »

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

Anti-Disappearances NGO wins Asian human rights award

November 11, 2016

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) has won the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award 2016 for its efforts to resolve the problem of forced disappearances in Asia.

AFAD has made indelible contributions in pushing states to address the rights of families of the disappeared and in seeking justice for the victims,” said Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan, chairman of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. He said that AFAD was a major force behind the UN’s adoption in 2006 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, and has in recent years been active in lobbying Asian governments to sign and ratify the convention.

[Su said that many instances of politically motivated disappearances also occurred in Taiwan when the nation was under authoritarian rule. As someone who took part in rescue missions for missing people at that time, Su said he could deeply empathize with the fear experienced by the victims’ families and the hardships faced by human rights organizations in authoritarian nations.]

Founded in 1998 in Manila, AFAD facilitates searches for people who are abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization, and works to ensure the attainment of truth, justice, redress and the reconstruction of the collective memory of the missing. Recipients of the award include Reporters Without Borders, Rescue Foundation of India, End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes International, as well as Kim Seong-min, founder and director of Free North Korea Radio. The award comes with a prize of US$100,000.

Source: AFAD wins human rights award – Taipei Times