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Regional MPs urge UN to establish independent mechanism to investigate rights violations in the Philippines

Southeast Asian lawmakers on 29 June called upon the UN Human Rights Council to act on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ findings by establishing an international independent investigation mechanism into the human rights violations committed in the Philippines since 2015.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Source: Wikipedia)

"As the institution responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights globally, the UN Human Rights Council must ensure that the appalling human rights abuses taking place in the Philippines do not go unpunished. Any other decision would not only undermine the Council’s legitimacy but also send an emboldening message to human rights abusers worldwide,” said Mu Sochua, APHR Board Member and former member of parliament (MP) in Cambodia. 

Earlier this month, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), released a hard-hitting report, detailing persistent impunity for human rights violations occurring in the Philippines. The High Commissioner is expected to present her findings to the Human Rights Council on 30 June.

In addition to documenting the widespread and systematic killing of thousands of alleged drug suspects, the report also noted that the Philippine authorities’ oppressive response in relation to national security has seen the acute shrinking of civic space, especially for human rights organisations, lawmakers, trade unionists, religious communities, and the media. In particular, several rights activists who were “red-tagged” or labelled as terrorists were subsequently killed and their murders remain unresolved. 

In response to the report, the Philippine government said it “firmly rejects” the findings.  

“The Philippines government's rejection of the UN findings is nothing but confirmation that the impunity described will persist. The government’s recent use of the COVID-19 pandemic to intensify its crackdown on dissent and abuse human rights also leaves no hope that it will change course. That is why the Council must step-up. If they don't, the number of victims of human rights abuses in the Philippines will only continue to rise,” added Sochua.