Statement of the Commission on Human Rights calling for greater respect for Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights calling for greater respect for Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council

The Commission on Human Rights expresses deep concern over recent discourses from the Philippine government that has consistently questioned the legitimacy of international human rights mechanisms in ensuring the rule of law and human rights in the country. This is despite the fact that the Philippines has been a signatory to a number of treaties on human rights which, in turn, have given authority to these bodies to monitor the situation and recommend measures in improving the human rights condition in the country.


At the same time, we note the qualified expressions of openness by the government to receive experts to assess the human rights situation in the Philippines. The government is open to investigations, officials say, except for those who they allege of being biased.


The Commission, however, notes that expressions of concern on the human rights situation in the country should not be construed as partiality. As in the case of UN Special Rapporteurs, investigations are opportunities to clarify and collaborate in pursuit of better protection and promotion of human rights on the ground.


Instead, Agnes Callamard (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions) has been constantly a subject of government tirades. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples) has been included in a petition to declare her as a “terrorist.” And, recently, even the Philippine security sector was advised by the President to ignore human rights probe by international human rights bodies due to perceived lack of merit and bias.


We caution the government against dispensing allegations without proof. Rather than attacking human rights bodies and human rights defenders, we urge the government to display sincere commitment to transparency and the rule of law by allowing unhampered investigations to take place.


The UN Human Rights Special Procedures, which includes the Special Rapporteurs, are entitled to immunities and protection as experts of the UN system. The Philippines has a particular duty to ensure their safety and security.


As such, we join the call for these charges against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz to be dropped in order that she may remain unhindered in performing her mandate here in the Philippines and elsewhere she may be called upon to undertake her investigations.


The Commission calls on the government to ensure that justice and the rule of law prevail in our country. Due process must never be compromised in the investigation and prosecution of cases. If all these basic human rights are observed, we will be treated with respect by the international community and there will be no reason for the international human rights bodies to assume jurisdiction over what should otherwise be purely domestic affairs.


Press Statement | 14 March 2018