PRESS RELEASE "Human Rights Report of the Philippines to the UN lacks measurable results"
On 29 May 2012, the Philippines will be reviewed as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council on the implementation of its human rights obligations.
The Philippine government receives in advance the opportunity to explain in a government report, what measures it has taken to improve the human rights situation in the country and to fulfill its international human rights obligations.
"The recently submitted report lacks the transparent and objective evaluation of concrete and measurable steps taken by the Philippine government to improve the human rights record in the country in a sustainable manner" says Maike Grabowski, coordinator of the German-based Action Network Human Rights-Philippines (“Aktionsbündnis
Menschenrechte-Philippinen” - AMP).
As an example, the Philippines government points to the establishment of human rights offices within the military and its decades-long integration of human rights education in training institutions as indicators of improving the human rights situation. However, the government and the military have not truthfully evaluated such steps in the face of increased human rights violations, particularly politically motivated killings and enforced disappearances in the same periods.
In fact, civil society observed weak implementation of command responsibility that led to the impunity of the above mentioned violations.
Further, the Philippine report states that the government cooperates closely with national civil society organizations. Many of our civil society partners in the Philippines do not accept this vague generalized term of engagement with government," criticizes Grabowski.
The national human rights organization, Philippine Alliance for Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) has pointed out, for instance, that consultations with civil society prior to the drafting of the National Report and the National Action Plan for Human Rights were wanting in planning, thoroughness in discussions and formulations of unities and
differences in views.
"The institutional and legislative progress mentioned in the National Report is to be welcomed, however, the real benchmark for the improvement of the human rights situation and the sincerity of the current government must be the professional investigation of human rights violations with due diligence and the indictment and conviction of the
perpetrators and their string pullers staying in the back," demands Michael Schirmer, chair of the German human rights alliance on the Philippines. Impunity is still one of the main reasons for continued human rights abuses in the Philippines.
The eight member organizations of the AMP are therefore calling on Member States of the United Nations to analyze the national report of the Philippines critically and ask the Philippine delegation during the interactive dialogue of the UPR to set concrete and measurable steps to enable an effective impact assessment of the Philippine human rights policy. This is the only way for the Philippine government to prove its proclaimed change in policy on the issue of human rights.
For more information on the UPR, as well as potential questions and recommendations to the Philippine government please contact:
Maike Grabowski, Action Network Human Rights-Philippines