Press Release
July 17, 2019

UNHRC probe will shatter 'consensus of silence' over EJKs - De Lima

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has hailed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for adopting a resolution calling for a comprehensive review of the human rights situation in the country, notably on the government's bloody drug war policy.

De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, called the UNHRC Resolution as a "welcome step" and a "jumpstart" in the Filipinos' search for justice and accountability for the gross human rights violations in the country under Mr. Duterte.

"If effectively implemented, the UNHRC Resolution can help in decisively shattering the 'consensus of silence and conspiracy of fear' among the Filipinos domestically, and in shifting the political narrative abroad, as I had intimated in my message to the UNHRC during its September 2018 session," she said.

In its 41st regular session in Geneva, Switzerland last July 11, a resolution was introduced to take concrete actions on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines, citing the unabated extrajudicial killings and attacks on human rights defenders in the country, among others.

The resolution urged the Philippine government "to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable, in accordance with international norms and standards, including on due process and the rule of law."

It also asked the Philippine government to "cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, including by facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation." Introduced by Iceland, the resolution was adopted by the UNHRC and signed by 18 member-states. It was, however, rejected by the Duterte administration as foreign interference in Philippine government's domestic affairs.

While she described the UN-proposed action as "relatively modest" than a commission of inquiry that human rights activists have proposed, De Lima said it can help ensure accountability over the injustices happening under the Duterte regime.

"The conduct of official monitoring and reporting on the Philippine human rights situation will still be a significant development, a clear signal to Duterte and his cohorts that truth and justice will prevail, and that the perpetrators and masterminds behind the atrocities will be held accountable," she said.

The lady Senator from Bicol also appealed to local and international communities "to continue soldiering on to shrink the space for impunity in the Philippines in hopes of "widen[ing] the windows of justice for the victims of mass murder and other abuses against our people."

In her commentary entitled "How to stop the Duterte killing machine" published by newssite Rappler last July 12, De Lima said a UN-led probe can put an end to Mr. Duterte's killing machine and ensure accountability for the mass murder in the country.

"The lack of any serious domestic investigation makes the Philippine government in a clear breach of its duty under international law. A UNHRC-led commission of inquiry has therefore become paramount, both as a measure of justice to the Filipino people whose access to legal remedies have been denied locally, and as tool of necessity to prove that resort to UN mechanisms and processes remains viable for our people, given the Philippines' pullout from the ICC," she said.

"A UN-led investigation can be that much-needed legal, political, and moral instrument. What best deters crime is the certainty, swiftness, and thoroughness of the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of wrongdoers. This is proven by all reputable studies in criminology and criminal justice," she added.

As the most vocal critic of the injustices happening in the country, De Lima has filed several resolutions calling for a Senate inquiry into the rampant cases of extrajudicial killings and summary executions under the Duterte regime.

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