MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has adopted a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including alleged extrajudicial killings in government's drug war.
During its 41st regular session in Geneva, Switzerland, the rights body voted to adopt the resolution filed by Iceland, among 18 countries that voted yes, including Peru and Uruguay.
A total of 14 countries, meanwhile, voted no, including China, with which the Philippines has been pursuing enhanced ties despite unresolved disputes in the South China Sea.
Fifteen countries abstained, including Japan, Pakistan, and Brazil.
The Philippines rejected the resolution, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. calling it a "travesty" in a statement a representative read on his behalf.
"This resolution was not universally adopted. Therefore, its validity is highly questionable. It does not represent the will of the Council, much less that of the developing countries who are always the target of such resolutions," Locsin said.
Locsin called out western nations for their "arrogance," saying they pushed for the resolution "in the confidence that the world has forgotten what they did and what should have been done to them had there been a Human Rights Council."
"This resolution flies in the face of everything the Philippines has worked for when it founded the Human Rights Council in 2006, and when it advanced the work towards realizing a Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 1940s, insisting on strong commitments for justice, dignity and conscience, and the rights of women — a concept almost unheard of then," he said.
This was how the UNHRC member-states voted:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom including Northern Ireland
- Saudi Arabia
- Burkina Faso
- South Africa
THE ICELAND RESOLUTION
Explaining the reason for sponsoring the resolution, Iceland said it was not seeking any confrontation but has tried to engage constructively with the Philippines.
It added that since 2017, Iceland has led 3 joint statements on the Philippine situation. It said it simply wants a report from the High Commissioner by June next year.
Iceland noted that 11 special rapporteurs have called for an independent investigation on the Philippine situation, releasing 33 statements. It also mentioned the sustained attacks on people and institutions defending human rights in the country.
Aside from asking the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive report, the resolution also calls on the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. This includes facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.
The resolution expresses deep concern over allegations of threats, intimidation and personal attacks directed against special procedure mandate holders, including the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Vicki Tauli-Corpuz and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution Agnes Callamard.
Callamard has been the subject of numerous verbal tirades by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte and Malacañang had repeatedly stressed they would not welcome her in the country.
Tauli-Corpuz, on the other hand, was among more than 600 human rights defenders whom the Department of Justice included in a list of individuals who supposedly had terrorist connections, in a petition before a Manila court.
Tauli-Corpuz managed to clear her name and the DOJ eventually amended its petition leaving only 8 names of those alleged to be officers of the communist party. The Manila court eventually trimmed down the list to 2 in February this year.
The resolution also urges the Philippine government to “take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards, including on due process and the rule of law.”
Rights groups have claimed that tens of thousands have died in the Philippine government's drug war. Police have, meanwhile said, the figure is just at over 6,000 from the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016 until the end of May.
Government has repeatedly denied involvement in summary killings, saying drug suspects slain in police operations had resisted arrest.
- with reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News