Oppose Philippine candidacy to Human Rights Council – HRW

MANILA, Philippines – The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on other countries to oppose the Philippines’ candidacy for the United (UN) Nations Human Rights Council in a statement released on Thursday, October 11.

The opposition comes amid the continued surge of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and crimes against humanity as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs. (READ: PH can be kicked out of UN council if killings continue – HRW)

As of July, the Philippine National Police has recorded a total of 4,540 drug suspects killed during police operations. Human rights advocates, meanwhile, estimate the death toll at over 20,000.

“UN member countries should show their outrage at the Philippines and Eritrea by leaving two spots on the ballot sheet blank and keeping them off the council,” UN director at HRW Louis Charbonneau said.

Charbonneau described the Philippine drug war as “abusive” and a “killing frenzy.” 

Members of the UN Human Rights Council are expected to abide by the rules and to cooperate with the council and its experts.

“Instead, the Philippines has carried out vicious campaigns against UN officials, including against the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and the high commissioner for human rights,” said the statement from the HRW.

In 2017, nearly 40 countries slammed the “culture of impunity” that persists in the Philippines after the country rejected a probe into supposed EJKs under the Duterte administration.

“Instead of pushing candidates to demonstrate they’re worthy of joining the UN’s premier human rights body, the UN membership has put forward a non-competitive vote that makes a mockery of the word ‘election,’” Charbonneau said, referring to the apparent disregard for "competitive elections" this year by UN regional groups. 

Other countries also opposed

Aside from the Philippines, Eritrea is also in hot water for alleged ongoing human rights violations. Authorities of the East African country have been under fire due to mounting cases of totalitarian practices and repression.

“In Eritrea, the authorities persecute and jail government critics and force citizens into indefinite national service,” Charbonneau said.

Similar to the Philippines, the Eritrean government has refused to cooperate with the UN Commission of Inquiry and a special rapporteur that sought to probe supposed violations on the rule of law.

The UN also raised serious human rights concerns in Bahrain and Cameroon. In Bahrain, peaceful dissenters and critics have been convicted and imprisoned. Police officers also reportedly threaten and coerce victims into signing confessions.

In Cameroon, government forces and armed separatists have committed serious abuses against residents in the Anglophone region amid protests and clashes over political grievances. Over 180,000 people have been displaced in the area since December 2017.

The UN General Assembly is set to elect members of the council on Sunday, October 12.

Other nominees for the council include Fiji, India, and Bangladesh for the Asia group, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Somalia for Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, and the Bahamas for Latin America, and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Austria, Denmark, and Italy for Europe. 

Countries need to have a majority of at least 97 votes from member countries to get elected. – Rappler.com