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Rights issues in PH remain of ‘serious concern’ – EU report

/ 07:02 PM January 22, 2018

EU Ambassador Franz Jessen (File photo from AFP)

Rights issues hounding the Philippine government remained of “serious concern,” a European Commission report said on Monday.

These issues include the alleged extrajudicial killings being linked to the campaign against against illegal drugs, the related impunity of those implicated in the killings, the possible reintroduction of the death penalty, and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility remained.

In a statement, the European Commission said it had adopted its second biennial European Union (EU) Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) report to the European Parliament and the Council, including an assessment of the Philippines’ implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labor rights, the environment, and good governance.

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It said the GSP report “assesses progress in the implementation of 27 international conventions that the Philippines has ratified as a sovereign country.”

The assessment is based on reports from international monitoring bodies of the United Nations and the International Labour Organization, as well as dialogues with the government, civil society, business and trade unions.

“As part of the Philippines’ commitment under GSP+, the EU and the Philippines have an ongoing dialogue on the implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, the environment, and good governance.

“We see progress in some areas – for instance, labor and environment – and have a frank discussion on others, such as the death penalty,” EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said.

With regard to labor rights, the group said the Philippine government’s socio-economic plan addresses some of the pertinent labor issues aiming to end contractualization, or the so-called “endo” scheme.

“A key issue to be further addressed is ensuring investigations of violence against trade unions and prevention of such cases, as well as alignment of labour legislation with ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association,” the report said.

“With regard to environmental protection and climate change, the Philippines has ratified the Paris Agreement and made progress on tackling illegal ivory trade, also in cooperation with the customs office,” it added.

Progress has also been noted in areas such as gender equality, people trafficking, health, education, social-economic rights, and the fight against corruption, according to the report.

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“However, extrajudicial killings, in particular in the fight against illegal drugs, related impunity, as well as the possible reintroduction of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility are of serious concern,” it said.

“The EU will continue to work closely with the Philippines through the ongoing GSP+ monitoring process, seeking to provide support to ensure that continued and tangible progress is made on implementing the 27 international conventions,” it added.

Aside from the assessment on issues, the report also said Philippines’ GSP preferential imports to the EU amounted to over €63 billion ($77.24 billion) in 2016 – and the Philippines has been increasing its share in it since December 2014 when it became a GSP+ beneficiary.

According to the reports, in 2016 the Philippines exported goods worth €1.67 billion ($2.47 billion) to the EU under GSP+ preferential treatment. /atm

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TAGS: drug killings, EJKs, EU, European Union, extrajudicial killings, Franz Jessen, rights issues, war on drugs
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