DIGNITY concerned over recent threats to human rights defenders in the Philippines

PUBLISHED 02.01.2017

DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture expresses grave concern over the recent developments in the Philippines, and the reports of threats and intimidation aimed at the human rights defenders of the country.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte’s inauguration in late June, official police records show that close to 6000 people have been killed. The actual number is expected to be even higher due to underreporting.

The majority of victims are poor, drug-dependent men or petty drug peddlers from disadvantaged and impoverished neighborhoods, but children, women, and random bystanders are also among the killed.

Human rights-movement respond to violations
The extrajudicial killings are a gross violation of human rights, and against both national and international law. The ‘war on drugs’ has received condemnation from the United Nations, the EU, a large number of countries around the world as well as international human rights organizations. It has also been strongly opposed and condemned by the many human rights defenders in the Philippines, who have formed the iDefend-coalition consisting of 55 organizations and movements to end the unlawful killings, and put a stop to Duterte’s so-called ‘death bills’ – the reinstatement of the death penalty, and the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 9 years.

Duterte threatens to kill human rights defenders
In relation to the response from the national human rights movement, President Duterte has publicly ‘warned’ the country’s human rights defenders by saying that they will be ‘part of the harvest’, if they try to obstruct the ‘war on drugs’. Furthermore, there have been reports of death threats received by various human rights defenders, along with reports of monitoring, online propaganda and ‘trolling’ aimed at intimidating and oppressing the work of the human rights organizations. It is in the context of this latest development, that DIGNITY would like to issue the following statement:

“We fully support our Philippine colleagues and their strong commitment to prevent and oppose human rights violations, and to promote respect for the inherent dignity of all human beings.

We strongly condemn any type of violence, intimidation or threat aimed at oppressing or silencing the human rights defenders of the Philippine society.

DIGNITY urges the Philippine government to stop the unlawful killings of suspects of drug-related offences, investigate all allegations of such, and lawfully sanction perpetrators and instigators. We urge the Philippine government to honor its commitment to international human rights treaties by which it is bound, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, and especially the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.”