Philippines, UN launch human rights joint program
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government and the United Nations (UN) on Thursday signed a three-year joint program on human rights amid concerns on the country’s human rights situation, including drug war killings.
Under the program, the Philippines the UN will engage in capacity-building and technical cooperation “for the promotion and protection of human rights.”
The joint program on human rights was developed to implement a resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in October 2020 offering “technical assistance and capacity-building” to the Philippines in a bid to address killings and human rights violations in the country.
Stopping short of an actual investigation, the resolution also urged member states of the UN to “encourage and support technical cooperation” between the Philippine government and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Last June 2020, the OHCHR released a damning report which flagged, among others, a “near impunity” in the government’s handling of drug war killings.
“This UN joint programme is a critical milestone. This is the first-ever UN joint programme on human rights in the Philippines, where we put together the capacities and resources of the UN in support of a wide range of national institutions,” UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez said in a statement.
“This project is a commitment that we will keep taking action for human rights, in ways that have an impact, and where it is most needed. We can only do so by listening and partnering with a wide range of actors,” he added.
The UNHRC resolution outlined six specific areas for capacity-building and technical cooperation.
Among them are the “strengthening domestic investigation and accountability mechanisms” as well as the “data gathering on alleged police violations.”
Civic space and engagement with civil society and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), national mechanism for reporting and follow-up; counter-terrorism legislation, and human rights-based approaches to drug control are also among these areas.
Australia was the first to provide financial support to the program, with an initial contribution of P12.9 million, according to the UN in the Philippines.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in the same statement, said the program “manifests the sincere efforts” of the Philippine government to “infuse its law enforcement and investigative operations with a human rights dimension in a non-political setting.”
Aside from the Department of Justice, the joint program will also be co-implemented by the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the Department of Health (DOH), the Anti-Terrorism Council-Program Management Center (ATC-PMC), the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) as well as the academe will also be core partners in the implementation of the program.
Under the program, the OHCHR as well as other UN bodies will work with the Philippine government to apply human rights-based approaches in the six areas of cooperation “drawing on expertise and best practices.”
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