CHR ensures voice of civil society groups in periodic report to UN

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Executive Director of the Commission on Human Rights Atty. Jacqueline de Guia. Image of the CHR.

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has assured the public and stakeholders that civil society organizations have a voice and a role to play in the human rights report that the commission will write for the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations (UN). (UPR).

During a press briefing on Thursday, the CHR introduced spokespersons for some of the civil society organizations (CSOs) invited to contribute to the report for the UPR – a process which, according to the executive director of the CDH, Jacqueline de Guia, plays a very important role in ensuring the State’s commitment to human rights.

De Guia said he wanted to raise awareness about the UPR as another mechanism to ensure people’s rights are protected and respected.

“We want to make sure that all grassroots sectors are well represented, and more importantly that they have a face and a voice in this whole process, we wanted this process to be an inclusive and consultative process that will ensure that of course the issues on the ground are highlighted and debated,” de Guia said.

“The reason why we have organized a press conference is to ensure that we are able to popularize the Universal Periodic Review as a process for all United Nations Member States to periodically review the situation of human rights. rights in their own national jurisdictions,” she added.

De Guia explained on the sidelines of the event that the UN’s UPR, a review of the human rights situation in several countries, is held every five years – the Philippines’ last UPR having taken place in 2017.

She said the CHR and other rights organizations are compiling a report detailing observations and concerns about the rights situation in the Philippines, which monitors and member states can use to cross-check the government’s report.

This will be the first UPR under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. De Guia, however, stressed that the review would not be an assessment of Marcos’ tenure, but of the past five years – meaning it covers the tenure of former President Rodrigo Duterte

“The UPR is anchored on the national report, especially from the government – ​​it is one of the resources on the human rights situation on the ground. Of course, other sources will be reports from special rapporteurs or UN committees, under these treaty mechanisms that we have,” de Guia said.

“And then the third source of information will come from national institutions, human rights institutions such as the CHR, we have our global counterparts in other parts of the world,” she added.

Respect for rights

The CHR has also given civil society representatives the opportunity to speak out and share what they intend to recommend in the CHR report. One of the most pressing concerns raised by speakers is the frequent red-branding, or practice of linking people to communist rebels, received by rights activists and people expressing legitimate dissent.

Joanna Concepcion of Migrante International, which represents migrant workers, said the government’s inaction in many complaints filed by overseas Filipino workers regarding their work – domestic violence, illegal recruitment and trafficking, etc. – is a major problem for their sector.

However, the red marking has also affected them, as Concepcion pointed out that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has accused their leaders of being part of the communist movement, which makes their work more hard.

“Our main statement in our submission, conclusion for the period 2017 to 2022, is that Filipino migrants who have suffered abuse and human rights violations while working abroad or residing abroad foreigner, mainly violations of the employment contract, illegal recruitment, human trafficking, gender-based violence among others have struggled to get immediate and full assistance from the Philippine government,” said Concepcion.

“Furthermore, the rights of our Filipino migrants to freedom of association and expression have also been violated, as Filipino migrant leaders and organizations abroad have also been targeted by the NTF’s red flag campaign. -ELCAC abroad. This type of environment therefore prevents our migrant organizations from responding to the needs of our migrants (on) the ground,” she added.

Abner Manlapaz, who represents People with Disabilities (PWD), lamented the government’s supposed insincerity about their plight, saying their sector’s budget was dwindling.

“Sinasabi ang dalawang bata in bawat tatlong batang may kapansanan is Hindi nag-aaral. Sinasabi is 69 percent kapansanan na nasa edad na dapat and has no trabaho. So ‘yan po is patunay na ang may kapansanan is Hindi nasa magandang katayuan dito in lipunan,” he said.

“Kahit po kami is responsible for the lawyer to improve the budget, especially to support people who can adapt, not to increase the budget, even if it is not. The budget is sure that the budget is serious and that he has everything he needs,” he added.

Former President Duterte’s administration has often been criticized for its alleged disregard for human rights, especially with the war on illegal drugs claiming the lives of many suspects. Critics have criticized the old regime for encouraging the killings, but the Duterte administration has insisted it is necessary to respond to drug suspects who intend to kill police officers.

In May 2022, government data showed that at least 6,248 drug suspects had been killed from July 2016 to April 2020 during legitimate state force operations.

However, some opposition figures have claimed the number could be between 12,000 and 30,000 drug war dead – a figure reflected in complaints against Duterte and other drug war enforcers before the ICC.

READ: Total drug war deaths at 6,248 as of April 30 – PDEA

Duterte is facing crimes against humanity charges for mass murder, for his role in the war on drugs. The former president, however, claimed that the war on drugs was necessary to prevent the Philippines from becoming a narco-state.

The CHR’s own investigation, however, said the war on drugs encouraged impunity and had failed to protect the population, while adding that some police had shown their intention to kill during operations. The Commission also noted confusing and erroneous findings in several drug war cases.

RELATED STORIES:

Not waging war on drugs will ‘destroy’ PH, Duterte says as possible ICC probe looms

CHR Drug War Investigation: Some Ops Probably Fake, Suspects Already Subdued When Killed

Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ encouraged impunity, failed to protect rights – CHR report

JPD

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