PH government’s delusional denial of EJKs, HRVs committed with impunity merits removal from UN rights body - Karapatan

“If the Duterte administration continues to desperately dismiss the existence of extrajudicial killings and other rights violations, despite overwhelming reports from human rights and people’s organizations within the country and concurrence from other governments, its delusional denial is clear proof that it has no qualification nor credibility to be a member of an international human rights body such as the UN Human Rights Council,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in reaction to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella’s statements regarding calls for the removal of the Philippines at the UN HRC. 
Palabay said that “the Duterte government’s rejection of 157 out of 257 recommendations of several countries in the recent Universal Periodic Review on the Philippines, along with its token commitments, belie its claims of victory at the the UN rights body.” She added that “it is the government’s obligation to ‘balance’ its compliance to international human rights instruments that it has signed and ratified, instead of its constant distortion and redefinition of the rights of peoples to justify its crimes.”    

Among the recommendations rejected by the Philippine government are on State-sponsored killings, torture, enforced disappearance, and illegal arrests, as well as on issues concerning the revival of the death penalty and the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility.  
Karapatan, through its own engagements and platforms such as the Philippine UPR Watch and the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (EcuVoice), has monitored the PH government’s compliance to international human rights instruments.   
“For the past three UPRs at the United Nations Human Rights Council where the Philippines holds membership, the Philippine government has made token commitments to recommendations on the human rights situation in the country, and has merely noted or rejected those that pertain to State actors’ accountability on rights violations. Even previous recommendations of UN independent experts Prof. Philip Alston and Dr. Chaloka Beyani, UN special rapporteurs on extrajudicial killings and on internally displaced persons respectively, have remained largely unheeded. Views of the UN Human Rights Committee on human rights cases such as that of slain human rights defenders Eden Marcellana and Benjaline Hernandez were all disregarded,” Palabay recounted.   

“How the Philippine government has been elected many times and deemed qualified by the UN General Assembly for membership at the UN HRC is one big question, especially as the climate of impunity worsened throughout regimes. This situation is made pronounced by the grave human rights violations under Duterte’s drug war, martial law declaration in Mindanao and counter-insurgency program,” she emphasized.  

Members of the UNHRC are elected by the UN General Assembly, taking into account the “candidate States' contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.” A member’s term is for a period of three years. Philippines’ term will expire in 2018.   

“If the UN allows the Philippine government’s continuous stint at the UN HRC, it further reveals itself as the quintessential old boys’ club of fascist regimes,” Palabay concluded.