A delegation of human rights and religious leaders sought the Philippines’ ouster as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over the continued killings of drug suspects either in vigilante-style street executions or police operations related to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
The Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch also appealed to 39 mostly developed states that expressed concern over continuing human rights violations in the country to check if they have any financial or logistical support to the Philippine Armed Forces or police and cut this.
“We call on the UN to revoke the membership of the Philippines at the UNHRC, especially as it continues its hardheaded position against any UN investigation on the killings,” said the Philippine UPR Watch, which participated in UNHRC sessions in Geneva on Sept. 18-29.
According to the UN News Center website, UNHRC is a body directly under the UN General Assembly and directly accountable to the entire UN. The General Assembly may suspend a UNHRC member’s rights and privileges if it committed gross and systematic violations of human rights. The process, however, requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.
Reputation at stake
Ephraim Cortez, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said membership in the UNHRC was a privilege that not all UN member-countries enjoy.
“The international reputation of the Philippines would suffer if its membership is revoked,” Cortez said.
Philippine UPR Watch accused the administration of President Duterte of using the UN as “a platform to justify its crimes against the Filipino people” and whitewash the street killings of drug suspects that had been mounting as Mr. Duterte steps on the accelerator in his war on drugs.
“Throughout the three cycles of the Universal Periodic Review, and most especially during the Duterte regime’s participation in the process, the Philippines has exhibited a total mockery of international human rights mechanisms,” the group said.
Statements made by presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano at the UPR were nothing more than an attempt to paint a “rosy picture” that deliberately ignored human rights abuses committed in the war on drugs, martial law in Mindanao and counterinsurgency campaign, Philippine UPR Watch added.
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