Urgent Interventions

Casualties on the rise in President Duterte’s war on human rights defenders, new report says

Geneva-Paris,February 28, 2019 - Human rights defenders in thePhilippines have been increasingly subjected to killings, attacks, threats, andother forms of harassment under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Observatory forthe Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint FIDH-OMCT programme, said ina new report released today.

The40-page report, titled “I’ll kill you along with drug addicts - PresidentDuterte’s war on human rights defenders in the Philippines”, documents the dramatic deterioration of the situation for human rightsdefenders in the Philippines as a direct result of Duterte’s policies,actions, and words.

Alongside his infamous‘war on drugs’, President Duterte has declared open season on human rightsdefenders in the Philippines. It’s time for the international community topress Duterte to end his war on human rights defenders and ensureaccountability for all attacks against them, said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, his ‘waron drugs’, the continued impunity for human rights abuses, the imposition ofmartial law over the entire island of Mindanao since May 2017, and his crudeanti-human rights rhetoric have all directly contributed to an increasinglyhostile environment for human rights defenders.

President Duterte’sviolent rhetoric has created a climate in which attacks against human rightsdefenders are acceptable and perpetrators are never punished. Instead ofencouraging attacks, threats, and others acts of harassment against humanrights defenders, Duterte and his administration must immediately adopt urgentmeasures to investigate such actions and protect defenders”, said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

The number of land and environmental defenders, as well as journalists,killed in the Philippines has increased dramatically during Duterte’spresidency. From July 2016 to November 2018, at least 76 land and environmentalrights defenders and 12 journalists were killed in connection with their work.Labour rights activists have also been the target of attacks and at least eightof them have been killed on Duterte’s watch.

Civil society groups working on human rights issues have been demonisedand vilified under the current administration and reported increasedsurveillance, intimidation, threats, and other acts of harassment by theauthorities.

Likewise, members of the independent Commission on Human Rights (CHR)have been harassed and their mandate called into question by Duterte’sadministration. The credibility of United Nations (UN) experts has similarlybeen attacked, with Duterte’s slandering of UN officials.

In the political sphere, the Department of Justice has pursued criminalcharges against a number of Duterte’s political opponents who have taken strongpro-human rights stances. In an emblematic case, Senator Leila de Limahas been detained without trial for more than two years under spurious charges.

PresidentDuterte has demonstrated utter disregard for human rights and the rule of lawby condoning, and even encouraging, extrajudicial killings and other serioushuman rights violations. This behaviour has further reinforced the Philippines’long-standing culture of impunity. In February 2018, the ongoing impunity forDuterte’s ‘war on drugs’ killings was one of the key factors that triggered theopening of a preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The report urges authorities in the Philippines to put an end to theprevailing culture of impunity for human rights violations, includingextrajudicial killings and attacks against human rights defenders. Thisrequires carrying out prompt, thorough, impartial, and transparentinvestigations into all allegations of human rights violations against humanrights defenders.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is toprevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDHand OMCT are both members of, the EuropeanUnion Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civilsociety.

For more information, please contact:

· FIDH: Eva Canan: + 33 6 48 05 91 57 -

· OMCT:Iolanda Jaquemet / Delphine Reculeau: + 41 79 539 41 06 / + 41 22 809 4939

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