international solidarity

Philippines under review: Rodrigo Duterte must no longer turn a blind eye to the fate of human rights defenders

We are sharing with you a statement issued on May 16, 2017 by Front Line Defenders, which works on the security and protection of human rights defenders at risk around the world, on the recent Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines. 

The human rights record of the Philippines came under scrutiny on 8 May 2017 during the 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. After the initial review of the national report submitted by the Philippines, member states of the UNHRC made their recommendations. In this article Front Line Defenders looks at the critical situation for human rights defenders, HRDs in the Philippines.

During the previous UPR of the Philippines in 2012, only four countries1 had raised concern with regard to the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Philippines, resulting in five official recommendations. While the Philippines merely acknowledged the recommendation pertaining to cooperation with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, it accepted two concerning the protection of HRDs from extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. During the examination, the government committed itself to taking “firm measures to address the problem of extra- judicial killings and enforced disappearances”. Despite those assurances, extra-judicial killings and targeted attacks on HRDs have continued to take place. The government report under current review made no mention of the risks facing HRDs or the measures taken to prevent their targeting, thus demonstrating how little progress has been made in implementing such recommendations over the past five years, and particularly under the new administration.

Free Palestinian political prisoners!

In a mass action at the US Embassy in Manila, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay scored the US government on its role as “the most ardent supporter of the Zionist Israeli government and the number one human rights violator of the Palestinian peoples,” as at least 1,300 Palestinian political prisoners continue with their coordinated hunger strike which started last April 17, 2017. 

Dubbed the “Strike for Dignity,” the Palestinian PPs’ actions symbolizes their call for freedom, for proper medical care in prison, and for an end to the prohibitions and cuts to family visits, medical neglect, isolation and administrative detention. Approximately 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners behind Israeli bars today. According to the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), nearly 600 of them are held in administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial, while others face military courts with a conviction rate of over 99%. Hundreds of Palestinian children, as young as 12 years old, are held in Israeli prisons. Palestinian political leaders, including PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi, and Samira Halaiqa and 11 more members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, are held behind bars.

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