38 UN rights body member-states tell PHL to lead by example

Thirty-eight member countries of the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have expressed concerns on the human rights situation in the Philippines, also a member of UNHRC and currently sitting as one of the four vice presidents of UNHRC for 2018.

“The Philippines is a current member of the Human Rights Council. States which are elected to join the Council should lead by example and are expected to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights during their time as members,” the 38 members of UNHRC said in a joint statement delivered by Iceland on June 19 during the General Debate on Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UNHRC member countries that signed the statement are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States. United States announced its withdrawal to UNHRC on the same day the speech was delivered, citing flaws in the Human Rights Council.

“While acknowledging that drug use in the Philippines is a serious problem, actions to tackle drug abuse must be carried out in full respect of the rule of law and compliance with international human rights obligations. We urge the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to bring killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs to an end and cooperate with the international community to investigate all related deaths and hold perpetrators accountable,” the signatories said in the statement.

They expressed concern on reported harassment of persons exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, including human rights defenders and journalists; and harassment of members of the Commission on Human Rights.

“We call upon the Philippines to provide and guarantee a safe and secure environment for all, including journalists and Human Rights defenders,” they said.

However, the countries said they are encouraged by reports that the government of the Philippines has indicated a willingness to cooperate with the UN to allow an objective assessment of the human rights situation in the country.

“We urge the Government of the Philippines to cooperate with the United Nations system – including the Human Rights Council and its special procedure mandate holders – without preconditions or limitations,” they said.

Sources: https://www.iceland.is/iceland-abroad/efta/news/statement-of-iceland-on-the-human-rights-situation-in-the-philippines/13825/; https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=23219&LangID=E