The UN-Philippines Programme on human rights falls short of addressing systematic violations & ensuring accountability

Statement at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 10: General debate on technical assistance and capacity-building - General Debate

Delivered by Ahmed Adam, On behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Mr. President,

The Joint Programme on human rights between the UN and the Philippine government to provide technical assistance and capacity building to the Philippines, as part of the implementation of the resolution 45/33, remains insufficient to address systematic and widespread human rights violations and ensure accountability.

We welcome the Joint Programme’s priorities to strengthen domestic accountability mechanisms and rights-based approach to counterterrorism. However, it falls far short of these aims. We regret that it fails to stem ongoing violations, including extra judicial killings; combat impunity; roll back institutionalised repression; and restore independence and credibility of democratic institutions. In December 2021, the Supreme Court upheld The Anti-Terrorism Act 2020, despite multiple petitions questioning its constitutionality. The law has created a chilling environment where expression and dissent are seen as security threats. Human rights defenders, activists and community leaders, including those who have engaged with the Council, have been threatened and tagged as terrorists merely for criticising State policies.

We regret the deferral of the ICC investigation on the Philippines. The decision of the Court perpetuates impunity and will further embolden autocratic leaders and repressive governments by allowing them to escape accountability for their crimes. Without accountability, perpetrators and enablers of Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ are contesting this year’s elections with the aim of continuing the cycle of violence and impunity even beyond Duterte’s Presidency.

The Council must continue its scrutiny of the situation in the Philippines, and in clear absence of domestic accountability, establish international accountability measures, as recommended by the High Commissioner in June 2020. Without genuine accountability, the joint programme will serve only as a means for the government to evade justice under the cover of cooperation.

Thank you.



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