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Karapatan: EU resolution on rights situation in PH a welcome step towards reckoning and accountability

September 18, 2020

QUEZON CITY – The resolution on the human rights situation in the Philippines recently adopted by the European Parliament* is a “welcome step towards reckoning and accountability over the Duterte administration’s blatant disregard of its obligation to uphold human rights and civil liberties in the country,” Philippine human rights alliance Karapatan stated, as the group urged the international community to “continue to stand with human rights defenders in the Philippines and the Filipino people who suffer in this worsening crisis of political repression and State violence under this increasingly tyrannical regime.”

“The sham drug war has continued to kill the poor with impunity while human rights defenders face vilification, violence, and death for their work in exposing these human rights violations even in the middle of a pandemic. Domestic mechanisms have been ineffective and outright failing in bringing the perpetrators of these gruesome crimes to justice. These attacks cannot continue, and the European Parliament’s resolution is a strong statement from the international community that there would be consequences for these abuses,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

The resolution – which was reportedly adopted in toto with 626 votes in favor, 7 against, and 52 abstentions – recommended the European Union (EU) to temporarily withdraw the Philippines' Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus status, which provides tariff perks for Filipino goods, as the European Parliament called on Philippine authorities to “immediately carry out impartial, transparent, independent and meaningful investigations into all extrajudicial killings,” particularly killings related to the drug war as well as the recent killings of human rights activists Jose Reynaldo “Jory” Porquia, Randall “Randy” Echanis,” and Zara Alvarez.

The European Parliament also expressed “serious concern” over the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act as it recalled that “in no circumstance can advocacy, protest, dissent, strikes and other similar exercise of civil and political rights be considered terrorist acts” amid the intensified vilification and terror-tagging of human rights defenders, activists, and government critics in the Philippines. The resolution further urged the EU and its member States to support the adoption of a resolution at the ongoing 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) to “establish an independent international investigation into human rights violations committed in the Philippines since 2016.”

“We thank the six political parties who initiated the European Parliament resolution and the members of parliament who supported and adopted it, as we hope this will enjoin other governments and the international community at large to continue to take a strong stance in denouncing the Duterte administration’s attacks on human and people’s rights in the Philippines and in supporting an independent investigation by the UN HRC on these attacks,” the Karapatan officer ended.

See copy of the adopted resolution here