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Philippines: human rights situation continues to spiral downwards despite Philippines-UN Joint Programme

Statement at the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Item 10: General Debate

Thank you.

We welcome steps made so far to implement the Philippines-United Nations (UN) Joint Programme on human rights.

However, the human rights situation in the Philippines continues to spiral downwards. The Covid-19 pandemic saw an increase of killings related to the so-called “war on drugs”, including of children, and a worsening of detention conditions compounded by years of systemic neglect, lack of staffing and other resources. We are particularly alarmed at reports of torture of children during arrest and in detention.

In 2020, the government passed the Anti-Terrorism Law that was challenged before the Supreme Court by several human rights organisations. In December 2022, the Supreme Court published its decision which upheld most of the law’s provisions, including the clause that gives security forces the power to execute arrests without warrant and to detain a suspect without charges for up to 24 days. As it is, the Anti-Terrorism Law could lead to forced confessions and torture.

Human rights defenders continue to face attacks, stigmatisation, judicial harassment, arbitrary detention and killings.

We call on the Philippines to undertake transparent, prompt, and impartial investigations into all killings related to the “war on drugs”, as well as the killings of human rights defenders. We urge the Philippines to release all arbitrarily detained defenders, to pass the Human Rights Defenders Protection Law, and to amend the Anti-Terrorism Law in order to make it compliant with human rights standards.

We call on the Human Rights Council member States to address the human rights crisis in the Philippines through direct accountability actions.

I thank you.


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