Civil society groups ask UN to probe human rights violations in Philippines

Manila, Aug 28 (efe-epa).- Dozens of human rights and civil society organizations in the Philippines have called on the United Nations to launch an investigation into extrajudicial executions and other abuses allegedly committed under President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, 62 Philippine and international organizations – including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – expressed their “continued grave concern over ongoing extrajudicial executions and other serious human rights violations in the context of the ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines.”

The letter urges Council member countries to respond “robustly” to the report on the situation in the Philippines that the Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented in June, in which she criticized the climate of impunity fostered by Duterte, which has led to more than 27,000 deaths in the anti-drugs campaign launched by the Philippine leader after taking office in June 2016 as well as the murder of some 250 activists.

“Specifically, we urge you to actively work towards the adoption of a resolution establishing an independent international investigative mechanism on extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations committed in the Philippines since 2016, with a view to contributing to accountability,” the letter asks the Council, which will convene its sessions on Sep. 14.

These organizations’ appeal to the international community comes amid the “failure of the Philippine authorities to stop or effectively investigate crimes under international law and punish those responsible.”

“In the absence of further Council action, the Philippine government will likely be emboldened to continue and escalate its violent anti-drug campaign and other serious rights violations, including reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society organizations, while the pervasive fear among victims and their families will only increase,” the letter adds.

The letter’s signatories also mention attacks on media and the recently passed Anti-Terrorism Law, which critics fear will be used as a tool to suppress dissent and harass opponents of the Duterte administration.

The Human Rights Council is the principal United Nations intergovernmental body responsible for human right and is composed of 47 member states.

It is responsible for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

Other signatories of the letter include Karapatan – a network of rights organizations -, the International Law Institute, the Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility, the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation, the Free Legal Assistance Group, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Human Rights Information Center. EFE-EPA


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