UN right's body resolution 'short of expectations' but chance for gov't to improve: CHR

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 09 2020 11:11 AM | Updated as of Oct 09 2020 11:13 AM

Members of human rights groups hold banners calling to investigate Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for alleged rights violations during a news conference in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2019. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters/File

MANILA - The resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Philippines fell short of expectations, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Friday.

“I’m quite hopeful about this resolution but it really falls short of expectations of the human rights community,” said Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit.

In an interview on ANC on Friday, Dumpit said there is still room for improvement. 

“This resolution actually provides a chance for the government to show its sincerity, to show that it can demonstrate efforts towards accountability, particularly here in the Philippines,” said Dumpit.

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The UNHRC on Wednesday adopted a resolution that would provide technical cooperation and capacity-building for promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.

But rights groups say it falls short of launching an independent international probe into the human rights situation in the country.

The resolution requested the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights to provide technical assistance and capacity-building to the Philippines for “domestic investigative and accountability measures, data gathering on alleged police violations, civic space and engagement with civil society and the Commission on Human Rights, national mechanism for reporting and follow-up, counter-terrorism legislation and human rights-based approaches to drug control.”

When asked if the UN body is giving the Duterte government too many chances given the number of killings recorded, Dumpit said this is how the human rights council works.

“This is a multi-lateral body. It is a state-led body so that chance is being offered to them and if you will take note o the technical cooperation, at the end of it, the operational paragraph says that the high commissioner will report orally one year after and this is something that we are anticipating,” she said. 

The Philippines on Thursday said it would "fully cooperate" with the UN on human rights issues after the international body pledged "technical assistance" to help the government investigate killings under his anti-narcotics drive. 

“There’s an opening that they are trying to engage with the UN but these are just impressions. How can that translate into concrete actions is yet to be seen,” she said. 

The Philippine government in July said it would launch a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and the CHR on data-sharing to strengthen the capacity to investigate and prosecute cases of human rights violations, a development which the UNHRC resolution noted. 

“There has been no marked improvement of the human rights situation on the ground. Killings still continue, harassments are still being propagated. Let’s see the change in actions of government.”

But Dumpit said they have already sent three letters to the DOJ regarding their supposed role in the new panel.

“They haven’t responded back as to what exactly we will play in that inter-agency panel. We are still waiting. They gave their own time period that by November they will be rendering a report. We are still waiting and by November we would like to hear that report as well,” she said.

She pointed out that there has to be acceptance first by the government that there really is a problem when it comes to policy.

“But what are the shortcomings of government? There has to be an acceptance that there is also that environment that emboldens security sector actors to be able to operate in such a way that it results into many injuries, killings and all that,” she said.