MANILA – An international human rights group on Thursday urged the Philippine government to reject the passage of a new anti-terror bill, saying it violates international standards on human rights and counter-terrorism.
In a statement, Amnesty International said the legislation contains dangerous provisions and risks further undermining human rights in the country.
“Amnesty International calls on the government to immediately amend the anti-terror bill to ensure it is consistent with international human rights law and standards, with particular attention to ensuring that the bill includes an appropriately narrow definition of terrorism, limits detention without charge, respects the rights to basic liberties, and provides sufficient safeguards against abuse and misuse by the police and other security forces at the expense of human rights protections,” it said.
The measure, which President Rodrigo Duterte marked as urgent, was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The Senate passed in February a similar bill that seeks to repeal the Human Security Act of 2007.
Amnesty International raised concerns that the bill was broadly written, making it susceptible to “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement” against human rights defenders, political activists, religious or ethnic communities.
“It risks granting further excessive powers to the Philippine executive, which has presided over serious human rights violations in the country under President Duterte,” it said.
If approve into law, state forces will be allowed to make warrantless arrest, wiretap suspects and detain them for up to 24 days, which “increases the risk of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and will also violate the right to liberty under international law,” the group added.
Acts that cause death, injury, property damage and those undermine public safety are classified as terrorism under the proposed legislation. Violators may also face 12 years of imprisonment by inciting to terrorism.
“Although the bill is fundamentally flawed, it does include a few constructive provisions. The law specifically includes specific provisions barring torture and coercion, requiring the keeping of logbooks, and requiring detainees to be informed of their rights. The law also includes a specific ban on extraordinary rendition,” the group said.
The Palace has defended the measure, saying "no draconian" provisions will be introduced to amend the existing law.