PH delegation in Geneva to dispel int'l concern over human rights situation

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2017 06:48 PM

The Philippine government on Monday will present the country's human rights record before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, seeking to clarify issues surrounding President Duterte's controversial war on drugs and anti-crime campaign.

In a statement, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who co-leads the 16-member delegation, said the UPR would be the "perfect opportunity" to ease the international community's concerns over alleged human rights violations in the Philippines. 

“There are a lot of facts that need to be clarified and put in proper context so our friends in the United Nations and the international community will understand the extent of problems of corruption, illegal drugs, and criminality in the Philippines," said Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The delegation left for Geneva early Thursday. 

The human rights review comes amid growing international concern over President Duterte's war on drugs, where thousands have died, including those slain in vigilante-style killings. 

The administration has maintained than less than half of the reported 7,000 death toll were slain in legitimate police operations. 

The Philippines, along with 13 other countries, will present its report on the actions it took from 2012 onwards to improve the human rights situations in the country and overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement. 

The country also presented during the first and second cycles of the UPR in 2008 and 2012.

Cayetano said this year's UPR would cover five years of the Aquino administration and 10 months of the Duterte administration. 

"We want to share the overall picture of our human-rights based development programs, especially our gains, priorities in the coming years, as well as the major challenges at hand," he added. 
 
The UPR is a mechanism where the human rights situation of all 193 UN Member States is reviewed every five years.
 
The Philippines was one of the first 47 members of the HRC and is currently serving its fourth term.

In June 2016, Duterte's first month in power, then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Duterte for allowing the execution of drug suspects, saying the killings were “illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Incensed at the criticism, the President then threatened to quit the UN. Ban later requested bilateral talks with Duterte, but the Philippine leader turned him down

UN human rights experts have also called on Duterte to stop the killings. 

During a visit to Manila on Friday, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard called out Duterte's approach to the drug menace, saying it might further complicate the problem.