International groups express grave concern on PH rights situation

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development  (APWLD) expressed concern over the worsening cases of rights violation in the Philippines, citing the recent illegal arrest and detention of 13 human rights defenders in General Santos City, Mindanao last July 4, 2018. While 11 were released on July 6, 2018, two remain detained, facing trumped criminal charges.

“The arrests are symptomatic of an ongoing drive by the regime in the Philippines to silence human rights defenders and representatives of civil society,” said David Kode, CIVICUS Campaigns and Advocacy lead.

CIVICUS and APWLD, along with local rights group Karapatan, reiterated the increasing frequency and brazenness of such attacks in the context of martial law in Mindanao, among other repressive policies. Moreover, the state security forces responsible for these violations are not investigated and prosecuted for their gross abuse of power.
Misun Woo, APWLD Regional Coordinator, also said that the PH government will be reporting at the UN High Level Political Forum on the progress the country is making with regard to commitments to the 2030 Agenda.

In a statement, Woo said: “We remain extremely concerned about the increased death toll and arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders in the Philippines. The government should be asked how it sees any progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or on human rights when militarism and violence are used to govern, and when women human rights defenders are treated as enemies or terrorists for voicing dissent.”
APWLD also cited the Department of Justice petition which named over 500 activists as terrorists. The organization noted that many of its members and close allies in its human rights and development justice work are included in the list.

The organizations reiterated that the Philippine government should uphold all its commitment to international human rights principles. They also put forward recommendations, including an end to the criminalization of rights defenders, an end to the threat, harassment, and intimidation perpetrated against women human rights defenders, repeal the Human Security Act of 2007, and immediately pass a bill protecting human rights defenders from various forms of State reprisal.

For copies of the full statements of the above-mentioned organizations, you may refer to the following links: