CHR: Address human rights violations under martial law in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – With the extension of martial law in Mindanao till the end of 2018, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged the Duterte administration to uphold human rights in the region and hold accountable those who violate these rights.

In a statement on Friday, December 15, the CHR said that it is “hopeful” that the latest extension approved by the 17th Congress will not be tarnished by human rights violations. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)

“We continue to stress the need to address accounts of human rights violations on the ground,” it said. “We also urge the government to hold to account both state and non-state actors responsible for the atrocities committed against residents.”

The violations include allegations of looting by the military, arbitrary arrests, military presence in evacuation camps, profiling, military harassment, enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings. (READ: Both sides in Marawi siege committed abuses – Amnesty Int’l)

With the martial rule extension, the CHR said "it is now incumbent upon the government to observe and ensure the safeguards of the Constitution and our laws to prevent abuses."

On Wednesday, December 12, legislators approved the request of Duterte for a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao citing the need to “primarily to ensure total eradication of Daesh-inspired Da'awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM), other like-minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups (L/FTGs) and Armed Lawless Groups (ALGs), and the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers.”

It’s the second martial law extension granted by Congress, after it approved President Rodrigo Duterte's earlier request for a 5-month extension which will end on December 31.

While the CHR believes that there is no need for martial law to address threats of terrorism and lawless violence in Mindanao, the CHR said it “respects” the prerogative of Duterte to seek an extension. 

“The Commission, for its part, will closely monitor its implementation and denounce any form of abuses, consistent with our mandate and oath of service to the Filipino people,” the CHR added. –

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.