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UN Human Rights Council must mandate an international investigative mechanism for violations in the Philippines

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(Bangkok, 5 June 2020) – The UN Human Rights Council should take a stronger stance by adopting a resolution mandating an international investigative mechanism into the human rights situation in the Philippines, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) said today.

Following the release of a UNOHCHR’s report on the human rights situation in the Philippines,[1] FORUM-ASIA Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said the report’s findings showed an overwhelming lack of accountability for violations connected to President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’

‘The report validates what civil society has been saying all along – that these violations have occurred within a climate of impunity, and the civic space needed to speak out against these violations, continue to shrink. In the absence of functional domestic mechanisms that can provide accountability, a resolution mandating an international investigative mechanism is the clear next step for the Human Rights Council,’ she said.

The report, released yesterday, found ‘credible allegations of widespread and systematic extrajudicial killings’ connected to the country’s ‘war on drugs,’ the implementation and adoption of laws and the policies ‘often at the expense of human rights, due process rights, the rule of law and accountability,’ the vilification of human rights defenders, and a persistent impunity for these violations.

The report will be presented at the forthcoming 44th session of the Human Rights Council.

FORUM-ASIA has advocated for international accountability for the extrajudicial killings and other violations in the context of the ‘war on drugs,’ and the crackdown on civic space through repressive policies. As Duterte continued to push for his policies, it became more and more evident that domestic mechanisms were incapable of addressing the violations.

The government has adopted policies including Executive Order No. 70, to expand police powers, allow state surveillance and increase monitoring of civil society under the guise of protecting national security. The Congress recently passed an Anti-Terrorism Bill which contained unconstitutional clauses that will only solidify State abuse of power.

These add to existing laws used to target human rights defenders, which include the 2012 Cyber Crime Protection Act and 2007 Human Security Act.  Human rights defenders, critics, as well as the media continue to be actively vilified, discredited and attacked.

Ahmed Adam, FORUM-ASIA UN Advocacy Programme Manager emphasised that the UNOHCHR report proved the gravity of the situation in the Philippines, which meets the criteria for Human Rights Council action.

‘States from the region, including Indonesia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea have signed the pledge for incoming members of the Council this year and committed to address human rights concerns on objective and human rights-based criteria. It is incumbent on them to take a principled position and vote in favour of a resolution on the Philippines mandating an international investigative mechanism.’

For further information, please contact:
UN Advocacy Programme, FORUM-ASIA at [email protected]

For media inquiries, please contact:
Yi-Lan, Communication and Media Programme, FORUM-ASIA at [email protected]



For a PDF version of this statement, click here