Philippines: accountability for violations still needed, while new counter-terror law poses new threats

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council today, the ICJ urged action on longstanding and pervasive impunity for human rights violations in the Philippines and highlighted new threats posed by a pending new counter-terrorism law.

The oral statement, delivered in an interactive debate on the human rights situation in the Philippines based on a report prepared by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, read as follows:

“Madame President,

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) concurs with the High Commissioner’s finding that overemphasis by the Government of the Philippines on national security and public order has led to serious human rights violations (A/HRC/44/22, para 12). Such violations will only increase if the draft Anti-Terrorism Act is approved and implemented.

The draft law would, for example, allows detention without judicial warrant for up to twenty-four days. Such prolonged pretrial detention without judicial review This is inconsistent with the prohibition of arbitrary detention under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the right under the ICCPR of anyone arrested or detained on criminal grounds to be brought promptly before a judge.  The Human Rights Committee has stressed that such judicial control of initial detention periods is not only essential to guarantee the right to liberty but also to prevent torture, other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearance.

In line with both the High Commissioner’s report and the 25 June 2020 statement by a large number of Special Procedures, the ICJ urges the Government of the Philippines to accept the findings and recommendations and rapidly implement corrective measures, in cooperation with the OHCHR, civil society, and the Commission on Human Rights, and to abandon or fundamentally revise the draft Anti-Terror Law. In the absence of clear, effective and measurable progress on accountability at the national level, this Council must stand ready to establish an independent international investigation (para 88(iii)).

Thank you.”

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