“We are concerned with the Anti-Terror law and its impacts on movements.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – An international investigation body is set to submit its findings on the human rights situation in the Philippines.
This was announced during the global launch of the Independent International Commission of Investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines or Investigate PH on Jan. 28.
Peter Murphy, chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) said during the online launch that the group will release two preliminary reports in time for the 46th and 47th UN Human Rights Council sessions in March and July 2021 respectively.
One final report will also be released in time for the 48th session of the UNHRC in September when High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet will deliver an update on the implementation of the UNHRC resolution on technical assistance to the Philippines.
Investigate PH will also submit their findings through oral interventions and submissions at Enhanced Interactive Dialogues and General Debates in the upcoming UNHRC Regular Sessions.
It will also submit its findings to the International Criminal Court.
Murphy added that they also use the findings to European parliament and other parliaments they can reach around the world.
Jeanne Mirer, a lawyer for almost 50 years in the United States and president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), said that they will use their findings to reintroduce a law lifting U.S. military aid in light of human rights abuses in the Philippines at the US Congress.
Situation getting worse
Investigate PH believes that the international community must act on the human rights abuses perpetrated by the government under the administration of President Duterte.
“I’ve joined Investigate PH to try to shine a spotlight on human rights violations that Filipinos are suffering and hold leaders accountable,” Mirer said.
With the Anti-Terrorism Act in the country, Mirer said they see more rights violations being committed against human rights defenders and their lawyers. Mirer noted 54 lawyers in the country have been killed under Duterte.
“We are concerned with the Anti-Terror law and its impacts on movements,” Mirer said.
The group said that the holding of a human rights summit last year by the Philippine government is not enough to address the human rights violations happening on the ground.
“From my understanding there is no representative from social movements (in the summit)… It was like people talking to themselves and not raising issues of people whose rights that the Investigate PH are looking at,” Mirer said.
Lee Rhiannon, former Senator of Australia, also said that testimonies from the ground only showed that the situation is not improving and in fact getting worse.
“Maybe in time they came out with some PR spin about their concern on human rights but we must always remember what the people are telling us, what is actually happening.” Rhiannon said, who had been in the Philippines last year and had talked with the Lumad.
The Investigate PH was formed after the United Nations Human Rights Council, on its 45th session last October 2020, adopted a resolution on technical cooperation and capacity-building on human rights in the Philippines.