Concluding observations UN Human Rights Committee on the Philippines
On 10 and 11 October 2022, the UN Human Rights Committee reviewed the Philippines’ compliance with its international human rights obligations. On 3 November 2022, the Committee issued the concluding observations of this review.
In the concluding observations the Committee expressed its concern about the intimidation, reprisals and extremely high numbers of extrajudicial killings, particularly in the context of the anti-illegal drug campaigns: “Moreover, it is concerned by a large number of public threats, intimidation and violent attacks, including killings, of judges and lawyers, particularly those with dissenting opinions, and the delay in bringing the perpetrators to justice (art. 14).” The Committee is concerned at reports in the context of the government’s counter-terrorism and anti-illegal drug operations on human rights defenders. This includes lawyers. It is further concerned about the reports of “red-tagging” further exposing them to death threats, intimidation, attacks, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
The Committee regrets the delay in bringing individuals to justice and the large number of suspects who have not yet been arrested, which raises concerns about the safety of those who seek justice.
Furthermore, Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the recommendations in which the Committee calls on the Philippine authorities to: “Step up its efforts to protect judges, prosecutors and lawyers against public threats, intimidation, harassment and violence, including killings and ensure that all violations are promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated, that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that the victims receive comprehensive redress”.
And that “The State should investigate and prosecute in a timely manner all reported cases of past human rights violations and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice that penalties imposed are commensurate with the severity of the offence […].”
Lastly, to “take immediate measures to ensure that everyone can freely exercise the right to freedom of expression. In doing so the State should: “Effectively prevent acts of harassment, intimidation and attacks against journalists, media workers, human rights defenders and other civil society actors to ensure that they are free to carry out their work without fear or violence or reprisals.” The State should conduct prompt, effective and impartial investigation into allegations of threats or violence against them.
Lawyers for lawyers submitted two reports on the Philippines: a submission on the List of Issues and a submission for the session of the review. The Committee adopted a significant part of Lawyers for Lawyers’ recommendations. Lawyers are subjected to threats, intimidation, physical attacks, prosecution in connection to their professional activities and the exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
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