May 25, 2012 – Geneva – The delegation of the human rights civil society group Philippine UPR Watch has received a receptive audience among various foreign missions on their visit to the United Nations Human Rights Council 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Switzerland.
The lobbying effort of the Philippine UPR Watch composed of 15 human rights and peace groups as well as church and mass organizations from the Philippines and abroad has been received positively by a diverse list of foreign dignitaries who have commonly expressed their keen interest to know more about the real state of human rights in the Philippines.
A significant number of foreign missions that have candidly discussed issues and questions with the various teams of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation have signified their concern about the compliance of the Philippine government with its commitment and pledges to the recommendations on the first cycle of UPR in 2008 as well as other undertakings it should fulfill. Seventy one countries have listed up to make statements, ask questions and make recommendations to the Philippine government on a wide array of outstanding human rights issues when the latter comes under scrutiny on Tuesday, May 29.
The foreign missions have assured the delegation that they will take into serious consideration all the concerns raised by the Philippine UPR Watch and counterpose these with the official national report of the Philippine government. The recurrent points that surfaced through the face-to-face interactions with the foreign missions include the continuing extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances and torture, impunity, the rights of women and children, militarization of indigenous communities and other pressing issues.
In between bilateral meetings with the foreign missions, the delegation has also been meeting with various representatives of the UN special procedures, rapporteurs and treaty monitoring bodies as well as a diverse array of international NGOs.
The UPR is a process where all United Nations members are subjected to a review every four years of their compliance with international human rights instruments and their commitments and pledges.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, co-head of the Philippine UPR Watch said that after four years since the UPR was instituted by the Human Rights Council in 2008, the Philippine government has largely failed to fulfill its promises in the 1st UPR cycle since various forms of human rights violations continue and impunity still remains, noting that practically no one has been held to account and that the Pnoy administration has remained passive if not indifferent to the demands for justice for the victims.
Today, May 25, the group will be conducting a forum at the Palais des Nations at the UN as a side event dubbed “Telling It As It Is”: Articulating the Philippine Human Rights Situation in the UPR Process, where human rights victims and defenders will speak about their experiences, analysis and recommendations.
The Philippine UPR Watch delegation in Geneva is made up of leaders and representatives of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Karapatan, Tanggol Bayi, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Promotion of Church People’s Response, Migrante International, Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubo ng Pilipinas, Kawagib/Moro Christian People’s Alliance, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, Defend Job Philippines, and Hustisya. They are joined by representatives from the International Committee on the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, Bayan-USA, Migrante-Switzerland, and ICCHRP-United Kingdom.