GENEVA, Switzerland—The Philippine Government must focus on explaining to the international community why rights defenders are being killed and arrested, members of the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) delegation said.
Reacting to the government Mision’s statement yesterday at the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations, EcuVoice said the government must also stop recklessly accusing killed and threatened human rights defenders as supporters of communists.
“How is vilifying human rights defenders as terrorists a justification to the fact that many of us are under threat of unjust arrests and are being killed by the security forces of the Duterte government?” EcuVoice delegation co-head and Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
While paying lipservice to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst’s report on the invaluable contribution of human rights defenders, the government accused rights activists in the Philippines of “[using] the cover of human rights defenders to protect, cover, or promote agendas of deceit and violence.”
The government accused Filipino “communists” of benefitting from and exploiting the goodwill that the United Nations system endows human rights defenders.
The EcuVoice delegation is made up of a human rights worker facing arrest when she returns home, a congresswoman whose partylist is villified, a widow of a slain human rights lawyer, an environmentalist whose fellow advocates have been killed, a bishop who is facing death threats, a journalist whose peers are being pressured, a mother whose two sons were murdered in the “drug war,” and a lawyer who is labelled and his group viciously smeared, among others.
“Mr. Forst, you have mentioned the need to address impunity and provide effective remedy, what would you advice in such situation where unscrupulous groups are using the defender badge as an impunity blanket to evade accountability from gross human rights violations?” the government self-righteously taunted.
“This red-tagging spree being exported by the government in the august halls of the UN Human Rights Council is ad nauseam and reflects not only the paucity of its arguments but the bankruptcy of its moral ground in the community of nations. Enough already. Just answer the questions please, “EcuVoice team leader Atty. Edre Olalia said. #
Edre U. Olalia
Head of Ecuvoice Delegation to the 43rd UNHRC Session
Cristina E. Palabay
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