Just hours after Philippine lawmakers approved an anti-terrorism bill that critics said would allow warrantless arrests and wiretapping of government “suspected terrorists” – the United Nations Human Rights Office released a scathing report that details what it described as widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity in the Philippines.
Commissioned by the Human Rights council – this report is the most comprehensive written report on the current human rights situation in the Philippines.
In a Zoom press conference held in Bangkok and Geneva, report team leader Ravina Shamdasani clarified that the report is neither an indictment nor a criminal investigation on President Rodrigo Duterte.
“What we’ve done is we’ve gathered facts, we’ve substantiated and corroborated them we’ve analyzed them and we presented them in an objective and fair manner.”
“This is not a report about President Duterte, it’s a report about the Philippines. Ultimately it is about state responsibility and it’s about patterns of violations that actually go back over a long period of time under successive administrations,” said Rory Mungoven.
But Mungoven said problems persist in the Philippines’ criminal justice system.
“We have very few examples of successful prosecution of human rights-related crimes so in the absence of success with the domestic mechanisms of course people begin to look towards the international accountability options.”
Such as the International Criminal Court — but it has yet to show investigation results when it comes to the Philippines.
Shamdasani said the facts in the report showed that there are serious human rights violations committed in the Philippines.
“Domestic remedies have failed, there is almost near total impunity for killings in the drug that the campaign against illegal drugs and with regards to the killings of human rights defenders and lawyers as well we’ve seen very little accountability.”
Shamdasani said the human rights office also has concerns about the Philippines’ anti-terrorism bill.
“There is much more discretion given to the authorities in their designation of individuals and organizations as terrorists and there is really not the opportunity for subjects to present their case.”
ABS-CBN news reached out to the Philippine embassy in Washington DC, but was deferred to their Philippine office.