Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

Human Rights Day 2017 in Asia: MIND THE GAP

December 11, 2017

International Human Rights Day 2017 was celebrated all over the world by governmental and non-governmental entities alike. Here some cases of MIND THE GAP as reported in the media in Asia:

Cambodia:

The government celebrated Human Rights Day under the theme of ‘peace’, but 103 civil society groups spoke out against state ‘attacks’. KT/Mai Vireak

The government yesterday celebrated the 69th anniversary of International Human Rights Day under the theme of peace, while 103 civil society groups called for more protection for human rights defenders. Prime Minister Hun Sen posted on his Facebook page to say how the rights and freedoms of Cambodian people have been restored since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979: “December 10 is International Human Rights Day, which people all over the world celebrate. On January 7, 1979, the rights and freedoms of the Cambodian people were restored and have been until this day.”

Civil society meanwhile marked the day at different locations around Phnom Penh and in other provinces. A group of 103 civil society organisations issued a joint statement calling for justice and respect for human rights from the government. “On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, we, the undersigned members of Cambodian civil society, call for an end to government attacks on human rights defenders and civil society groups and the lifting of unjustifiable restrictions on fundamental freedoms,” the statement said.

Philippines:

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the observance of the International Human Rights Day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to uplift the lives of Filipinos, especially the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. Noting that the Philippines is an active member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and that respect for human rights is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, Roque assured that the Duterte administration “works hard with the best interest of every Filipino.” ..“That direction is what inspires the government’s compliance with its human rights obligations. As a Nobel Peace Prize winner once said, ‘poverty is the absence of human rights” .

The Philippines has experienced a precipitous drop in basic human rights standards since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power last year, resulting in large, mass mobilizations across the country for the occasion of December 10, Human Rights Day. At least 12 rallies were held across the archipelago on Sunday, with human rights group KARAPATAN and progressive alliance BAYAN taking the lead alongside a range of like-minded groups calling for an end to what they describe as the U.S.-Duterte regime. In addition to over 13,000 small-time drug dealers and addicts killed during Duterte’s “war on drugs,” Karapatan has documented 113 victims of political killings, 81 victims of torture, 54,573 victims of threat, harassment, and intimidation, 364,617 who have suffered due to indiscriminate firing and aerial bombing, and 426,170 internally displaced who were subject to forced evacuation.  

Turkey:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AA
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AA

Respect for human rights based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of individuals before the law is the irreplaceable nature of the Republic of Turkey,” said Erdogan, according to state-run Anadolu Agency, on the occasion of Human Rights Day on Sunday. Erdogan specifically referenced Turkey’s commitment to “all oppressed people and victims from Palestine to Syria and Asia to Africa.”

Turkey has been cited by several international organizations for human rights violations, namely in its justice system, freedom of speech and Internet communications, treatment of minorities, and political censorship. See inter alia: https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/turkey/report-turkey/and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/22/celebrities-come-out-to-support-taner-kilic-amnesty-turkeys-chair-on-trial-today/.

Thailand:

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) commissioner and human rights defender Angkhana Neelaphaijit said that despite the government’s claim that it cherished human rights and had made them a priority, in reality it had done nothing to do so.
Angkhana Neelaphaijit
Angkhana Neelaphaijit
Thailand is still far from its goal of valuing human rights since the junta’s policies and actions have eroded rights, while many people do not even understand the principle. Prominent Thai campaigners marked Human Rights Day yesterday to lament that the country was still far from its professed goal of ensuring everyone was accorded the freedoms they deserve. The nation’s most severe human rights violation was the lack of freedom of expression, they said in an appeal to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to restore democracy to truly guarantee human rights for every citizen. They also said Thailand faced many serious human rights crises. For instance, social movements across the country continued to be suppressed by authorities, the justice system was being used against human rights defenders, and many people in society still did not understand human rights and harmed others. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) commissioner and human rights defender Angkhana Neelaphaijit said that despite the government’s claim that it cherished human rights and had made them a priority, in reality it had done nothing to do so. On the contrary, Angkhana said the government was doing the very opposite, enforcing many laws and regulations that violated human rights and curbing the activities of campaigners, both through law enforcement and by force. In effect, the regime was deepening Thailand’s human rights crisis, she said.

Pakistan:

Message by Foreign Minister of Pakistan : ”On behalf of the people and Government of Pakistan, I wish to reiterate our strong commitment to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as needs. Pakistan has demonstrated its resolve by enacting wide ranging legislation, establishing strong institutional machinery and putting in place robust policy measures in the field of human rights. Pakistan’s Constitution serves as an anchor and guarantor of fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Pakistanis.  The Government of Pakistan accords high priority to advancing mutually reinforcing objectives of development, human rights and democracy…This year is also significant for Pakistan in the field of human rights. Pakistan actively engaged with the UN human rights institutions and partners through regular submission of national reports, participation in review processes and implementation of recommendations arising from such mechanisms. Pakistan filed reports and participated in the review mechanism of three international treaty bodies, namely CAT, ICESCR and ICCPR. Pakistan also successfully presented its third national report on Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 13 November 2017. This level of engagement, participation and contribution demonstrates Pakistan’s commitment as well as actions to advance the cause of human rights.  Pakistan’s success as the newly elected member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) this year is a testimony to the confidence reposed in Pakistan by the international community as a consensus builder within the international human rights policy framework.

The struggle against enforced disappearance was seen in Sindh alone while though there have been cases of missing persons in other provinces but Sindh has dared to raise voice against such violations of human rights.  These views were expressed at a seminar on occasion of Human Rights Day organized here by SAFWCO and Social Change. Noted Human Rights activist and lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said only voice against forced disappearances was being heard from Sindh while voice of Balochistan has been crushed with force. Though many persons were missing in KPK and Punjab but from there no voice is heard.  He said our judiciary has come out of colonization era and was giving right decisions. He said it was he who had filed petition in SHC for IG Sindh A.D.Khwaja. He said he was harassed for being advocate against Baldia Factory burning of 258 persons, Shahzeb Jatoi case and other cases for which he was harassed and could not open his office for many months. He said now powerful forces were active human rights.  The gathering paid tributes to Pubhal Saryo, convener of missing persons forum who was whisked away by agencies and released after more than 2 months. Punhal Saryo said it has become very difficult to work for human rights in situation where human rights defenders were also not safe.
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http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5095119/civil-society-decries-attacks-nation-marks-human-rights-day/

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/multimedia/Human-Rights-Day-Marked-In-Philippines-Amid–All-Out-Repression-Drug-War-Martial-Law-20171210-0021.html & https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/951114/human-rights-day-roque-duterte-palace-poor-marginalized-un-rights-council

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/turkey/101220171

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30333640

http://www.mofa.gov.pk/pr-details.php?mm=NTY5Mw,, and http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/detail.php?hnewsid=6705

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

UN Rapporteurs urge ASEAN summit to address regional human rights concerns

November 11, 2017

Four UN human rights experts*(including Michel Forst, the Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders) have called on states to address pressing human rights issues during the 31st ASEAN Summit being held from 10-14 November in the Philippines. Recognising the important work of the many active civil society organisations across the region, the experts expressed concern about “a worrying deterioration in the environment in which they operate.

Human rights defenders, social activists, lawyers, journalists, independent media and even parliamentarians trying to speak out and protect the rights of others, increasingly face a multitude of risks ranging from judicial harassment and prosecution to threats, disappearances and killings,” said the experts. They observed rising numbers of cases of serious human rights violations affecting among others, people working on women’s rights, environmental and land issues and lawyers dealing with drug cases.

The experts called on the 10 ASEAN Member States to amend or repeal existing legislation and to reconsider draft laws that are being or could be applied to criminalize or restrict the vital work of civil society.  “We condemn the public vilification, harassment, arrests and killings of members of civil society, and call on Member States to rigorously uphold their duty to ensure the freedom and protection of those exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” the experts said. “Independent media, members of civil society and human rights defenders should be viewed as partners and as an essential element of democracy.

 

This summit should be seen as an opportunity to make real progress on these issues and to show the world that the Member States of ASEAN are fully committed to securing the human rights of all in the region,” the group said.

(*) The UN experts are: Ms. Annalisa Ciampi, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;  Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;  Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22380&LangID=E

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

November 4, 2017

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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

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.

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