PHL strengthens its position on human rights and its tradition of positive engagement in the joint United Nations program

The Philippines recently reaffirmed its commitment to continue constructive dialogue and cooperation on human rights.

During the virtual briefing for the diplomatic corps on August 17, Secretary of Foreign Affairs (SFA) Enrique A. Manalo cited the country’s leadership role in creating and nurturing platforms for the commitment to human rights in ASEAN and the United Nations, while “building bridges of trust and cooperation between our region and the United Nations human rights mechanisms and experts.

The Department of Foreign Affairs hosted the event as part of the government’s regular update on its human rights efforts. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla and Under Secretary Severo S. Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS) provided an update on commitments made in the areas of good governance, accountability and the rule of law, in line with the United Nations Joint Program on Human Rights. Rights (UNJP) which was launched in July 2021.

Remulla stressed that the government would pursue its human rights commitments “with even greater vigor and enthusiasm”. He says: “When I took over the head of the [Department of Justice (DOJ)] last month, i unveiled plans to improve the efficiency of the country’s criminal justice system.

He shared his discussion with the head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Benhur Abalos, on immediate measures, including joint training and continuous learning programs for prosecutors and security forces. order in the areas of corrective and substantive supervision, arrest procedures, crime scene processing and evidence preservation.

“The DOJ will work closely with the DILG on plans to decongest our prison facilities and implement effective rehabilitation programs for those deprived of their liberty,” according to Remulla.

Highlighting how the said priorities are in line with the commitments made under the UNJP, the Head of Justice also mentioned important steps in strengthening investigative capacities and improving the functioning of the ordinance mechanism. administrative 35, or the inter-agency committee dealing with extralegal executions and other serious human rights violations.

Developments include a link with the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Extrajudicial Executions on a training course covering the Minnesota Protocol on Investigating Potentially Unlawful Deaths; creation of a sub-working group on victim support and rehabilitation with policy discussions and capacity building based on a trauma-informed approach; as well as talks on creating a national accountability referral pathway to streamline complaint processes and facilitate investigations.

For her part, Catura said the series of major review processes on the Philippines over the next three months would be a way to test the newly created digital tracking tool for human rights recommendations coming from of different UN mechanisms called “National Recommendations Follow-up Database”.

“The [country’s] the vast civic space is home to over 101,000 non-profit organizations, 60,000 of which are NGOs actively engaged in various advocacy,” the Undersecretary pointed out. “The media environment that prides itself on more than 2,000 private entities…greatly reinforces the vibrant civic space we’re talking about.”

Of them revalidated, or constructive dialogue with human rights treaty bodies, take place in September and October. They will tackle the country’s compliance with conventions on the rights of the child, as well as on civil and political rights, respectively.

The Philippine government also indicated that preparations are in full swing for its fourth round of Universal Periodic Review in November, and that it looks forward to receiving the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children. in November this year, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression in 2023.

Referring to the joint program as a technical cooperation framework on human rights, Manalo said its ultimate strength is that “the commitments…made by the Philippines under the UNJP are not unrelated , but in fact are essential to the functions of government and its programming, and thus enjoys the highest degree of national ownership, which is fundamental to its effectiveness and success.

“The UNJP breaks new ground as an innovative tool of multilateralism, offering a better option to the current fragmented UN approaches to human rights cooperation and politicized measures that tear apart trust and good faith. “, he asserted.

The SFA emphasized that the UNJP “is holistic and synergistic as it is practical, as it connects the human rights, development and peace pillars of the UN. It pursues an inclusive multi-stakeholder approach and demonstrates that with political will, new strategies can contribute to [advance the UN development system more meaningfully].”

Image credits: DFA-OPCD/Jeffrey Mendoza

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