PHILIPPINES: Casualties on the rise in PresidentDuterte’s war on human rights defenders, new report says
Geneva-Paris, February 28, 2019 - Human rightsdefenders in the Philippines have been increasingly subjected to killings,attacks, threats, and other forms of harassment under President RodrigoDuterte, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointFIDH-OMCT programme, said in a new report released today.
The 40-page report, titled “I’ll kill you along with drug addicts -President Duterte’s war on human rights defenders in the Philippines”,documents the dramatic deterioration of the situationfor human rights defenders in the Philippines as a direct result ofDuterte’s policies, actions, and words.
“Alongside his infamous ‘war on drugs’, President Duterte has declaredopen season on human rights defenders in the Philippines. It’s time for theinternational community to press Duterte to end his war on human rightsdefenders and ensure accountability for all attacks against them”, said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June30, 2016, his ‘war on drugs’, the continued impunity for human rights abuses,the imposition of martial law over the entire island of Mindanao since May2017, and his crude anti-human rights rhetoric have all directly contributed toan increasingly hostile environment for human rights defenders.
“President Duterte’s violent rhetoric has created a climate in whichattacks against human rights defenders are acceptable and perpetrators arenever punished. Instead of encouraging attacks, threats, and others acts ofharassment against human rights defenders, Duterte and his administration mustimmediately adopt urgent measures to investigate such actions and protectdefenders”, saidOMCT Secretary-General Gerald Staberock.
The number of land and environmental defenders, aswell as journalists, killed in the Philippines has increased dramaticallyduring Duterte’s presidency. From July 2016 to November 2018, at least 76 landand environmental rights defenders and 12 journalists were killed in connectionwith their work. Labour rights activists have also been the target of attacksand at least eight of them have been killed on Duterte’s watch.
Civil society groups working on human rights issueshave been demonised and vilified under the current administration and reportedincreased surveillance, intimidation, threats, and other acts of harassment bythe authorities.
Likewise, members of the independent Commission onHuman Rights (CHR) have been harassed and their mandate called into question byDuterte’s administration. The credibility of United Nations (UN) experts hassimilarly been attacked, with Duterte’s slandering of UN officials.
In the political sphere, the Department of Justice haspursued criminal charges against a number of Duterte’s political opponents whohave taken strong pro-human rights stances. In an emblematic case, Senator Leilade Lima has been detained without trial for more than two years underspurious charges.
President Duterte has demonstrated utter disregard for human rights andthe rule of law by condoning, and even encouraging, extrajudicial killings andother serious human rights violations. This behaviour has further reinforcedthe Philippines’ long-standing culture of impunity. In February 2018, theongoing impunity for Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ killings was one of the keyfactors that triggered the opening of a preliminary examination by theInternational Criminal Court (ICC).
The report urges authorities in the Philippines to putan end to the prevailing culture of impunity for human rights violations,including extrajudicial killings and attacks against human rights defenders.This requires carrying out prompt, thorough, impartial, and transparentinvestigations into all allegations of human rights violations against humanrights defenders.
The Observatoryfor the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objectiveof this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression againsthuman rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the EuropeanUnion Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civilsociety.
For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Eva Canan: + 33 6 48 05 91 57 -firstname.lastname@example.org
· OMCT:Iolanda Jaquemet / Delphine Reculeau: + 41 79 539 41 06 / + 41 22 809 4939