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Philippines
24.03.21
Urgent Interventions

Philippines: Arbitrary detention of Karapatan member Renalyn Tejero

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

PHL 003 / 0321 / OBS 037
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
The Philippines
March 24, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in The Philippines.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Karapatan Alliance Philippines about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Renalyn Tejero, a paralegal officer of Karapatan.

On March 21, 2021, at around 5 a.m., officials of the Philippines National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA) arbitrarily arrested Renalyn Tejero in Barangay Lapasan, in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental Province. Her fate and whereabouts remained unknown for more than six hours, until the police confirmed Ms. Tejero was detained in the headquarters of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 13, at Camp Colonel Rafael Rodriguez, in Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte. Renalyn Tejero faces trumped-up charges of “murder” and “attempted murder”.

The Observatory notes that since November 2020, Renalyn Tejero has been a victim of red-tagging[1]. Her name has appeared on Facebook posts and leaflets in the Caraga Administrative Region that label her as a “communist” and a “terrorist” and link her to the armed opposition group New People’s Army (NPA).

The Observatory recalls that since President Duterte took power in June 2016, human rights defenders have faced relentless vilification and red-tagging with the aim to discredit their peaceful work and to silence all critical voices, thus creating a climate in which attacks against them are acceptable and legitimised. On March 7, 2021, nine human rights defenders were killed by the PNP and the PA following President Duterte’s order to “ignore human rights” and “kill” communist rebels in any armed encounter with them. Furthermore, those defending rights in the Philippines have been subjected to trumped-up charges and lengthy pre-trial arbitrary detention. Karapatan members have faced frequent harassment, criminalisation and attacks, including the killing of Ms. Zara Alvarez and the arbitrary detention of Nimfa Lanzanas.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention and the judicial harassment of Renalyn Tejero, as it seems to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory urges the Philippines authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against Renalyn Tejero and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her.

The Observatory reiterates its utmost concern over the killings and attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines, and calls upon the authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the Philippines asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Renalyn Tejero and all other human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Renalyn Tejero, as well as all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the Philippines, since their arbitrary detention seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the unhindered access of Renalyn Tejero to a lawyer of her choosing and to her family members;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Renalyn Tejero and all other human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Addresses:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in your respective countries.

***

Geneva-Paris, March 24, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39
  • Tel FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

[1] “Red-tagging” is the process of labelling individuals or groups perceived to be critical of the government as “terrorists” and/or “communists”.

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