PHL human rights record up for review in Geneva, activists vow to dispute government claims

May 25, 2012 10:00 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, May 25 –The Philippines’ human rights records are scheduled for a second periodic review in Geneva, Switzerland on May 29, four years after the first cycle in 2008.

Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima’s delegation to the review is scheduled to leave this weekend, composed of representatives from various government agencies.

The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism by which the human rights records of member-countries of the United Nations (UN) are reviewed by member states with the view to further promote and protect the overall enjoyment of people's human rights.

As this developed, Philippine human rights activists have arrived in Geneva with a pledge to dispute claims by de Lima’s governmental delegation that Manila has a strong human rights platform.

Fifteen civil society groups belonging to the Philippine UPR Watch are represented by leaders and members of mass organizations in the Philippines.

The Philippine UPR Watch continued to vigorously lobby with the 71 countries that have signed up to question the Philippine government with its compliance to implement the recommendations put forward by 14 countries during the first cycle of the UPR held in 2008.

In a statement, the group said it has also been raising the government’s other unfulfilled commitments and ignored recommendations particularly put forward by the former UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine delegation’s foremost concern is in addressing the Human Rights Council, including allegations of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture. The enhancement of the domestic, legal and institutional capacities on these issues is one of the government’s priorities, DFA said.

Facing wide criticisms from human rights groups here and abroad, Philippine authorities said Manila continued to undertake concrete measures in addressing key issues, such as coordination between the State’s investigative, prosecutorial, and security agencies with civil society organizations.

Also, the Supreme Court has instructed all lower courts to prioritize the resolution of pending cases of human rights violations.

According to DFA, the Philippines will also highlight to the international community the strong human rights platform. The Philippine government’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review highlights its commitment to further strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights. (PNA)

RMA/GJB

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