28 states urge UN to report on human rights situation in PH
MANILA, Philippines — Twenty-eight nations have urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to take further action on the human rights situation in the Philippines amid allegations of violations.
The draft resolution, submitted by Iceland on Thursday called on the High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to produce a “comprehensive written report” on the human rights situation in the Philippines and present it to the council’s 44th session “to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue.”
The council, which is expected to vote on the said resolution in the coming days, is currently on its 41st session.
The draft resolution also asked the Philippines to “take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances” as well as to conduct “impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards including due process and the rule of law.”
The draft resolution also asked the government to cooperate with Bachelet’s office and the council’s mechanisms “by facilitating country visits” as well as prevent or refrain “from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.”
‘Repeated expressions of concern’
The draft resolution likewise recalled the “repeated expressions of concern” coming from Bachelet herself and the council’s special procedure mandate holders about the human rights situation in the Philippines.
During a human rights council meeting in June, Bachelet said the human rights situation in the Philippines is being monitored “very closely” as the death toll in the country’s drug war has been “extraordinarily high.”
“My office is following the situation of human rights in the Philippines very closely. The extraordinarily high number of deaths – and persistent reports of extrajudicial killings – in the context of campaigns against drug use continue,” she said.
Iceland’s resolution also expressed deep concern about alleged threats, intimidation, and personal attacks directed against the council’s special procedure mandate holders, including Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, special rapporteur on the rights on the rights of indigenous peoples; and Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The draft resolution also noted that “there have been allegations of thousands of killings of people allegedly involved with the drug trade and drug use” since the Duterte administration launched its brutal drug war in 2016.
Iceland also reaffirmed in its draft resolution the “determination” of member states to “tackle the world drug problem” and to “actively promote a society free of drug abuse in order to help to ensure that all people can live in health, dignity, and peace, with security and prosperity.”
It underscored that the right to life “must be respected and protected by all law enforcement agencies” to address drug-related crimes, adding that allegations of drug-trafficking offenses “should be judged in a court of law which adhere to an internationally recognized fair trial and due process norms and standards.”
This was not the first time that Iceland has called out the Philippines over its alleged rights violations.
In 2018, Icelandic Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson appealed that a probe into the Philippines’ alleged human rights violations in relation to the war on drugs be conducted by the UN.
According to the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), Iceland’s recent draft resolution serves as a “critical first step” to help the Philippines, which the group said has “consistently demonstrated unwillingness” to address the “relentless killings both by the national police and unidentified assailants.”
“International investigation is imperative if lives are to be saved if human rights are to be respected and regional human security is to be protected,” iDefend said in a statement.
A media officer for the UNHRC told INQUIRER.net via email that the number of states backing the resolution is still subject to change as others can still decide to co-sponsor to the time of its adoption next week.
Aside from Iceland, more than a dozen countries supported the said resolution namely Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia, Sweden, and United Kingdom. (Editor: Eden Estopace)/ac
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