Tag Archive: Human rights defender


by Renato G. Mabunga

(This article has been presented by the author to the delegates of the 6th Asian Human Rights Defenders Forum (6th AHRDF) held in Quezon City, Philippines on 3-5 December 2014)

 

Though use inter-changeably and oftentimes carries the same meaning, intent and even connotation, there is a THIN LINE DISTINCTION between Security of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and the Protection of Human Rights Workers.

Coming from an Organization Development (OD) perspective: Security of HRD speaks more of the assessment of the Slide2internal realities of individual defenders and their organizations vis-à-vis their actual experience and perceptions in the conduct of doing human rights work. It is an evaluation of perceived risks and threats that directly impacts on one’s personal commitment (to the cause of human rights), involvement (to organizations), and sustainability of seeing through some changes in the external situation. It also defines the degree of threshold for organization indicating critical shift or change in the conduct of operation – from a normal, acceptable level of usual activities to conscious weighing of the impact and dangers of particular action to the lives of the implementers and/or the target communities.

Protection of HRDs, on the other hand, is a response or measures derived from the assessment of risks and threats. This could either be personal or at the individual level, or organizational. And, may take the form of internal policies of the organization or personal disciplinary measures and precautions of individual HRDs. All of which are aimed at lessening risks and threats. Continue reading

Press Conference: CHR human rights protector or violator?

Press Conference: CHR human rights protector or violator?

By Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)[1]

I.          General Overview

President Benigno Aquino III considered 2012 a year of continued resurgence of the economy bolstered with increased confidence in good governance. He took pride in the dramatic leaps the country has taken in the global competitive index of the World Economic Forum; the unprecedented attainment of investment-grade status from the most respected credit ratings agencies in the world; and the astounding 6.8 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2012.[2]

Amidst this enthusiasm, cases of extra-judicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests as well as other political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights violations increase halfway into the Aquino administration. What becomes alarming “is the growing number of threats and killings of rights defenders” as observed by the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, and on extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns.[3]

Continue reading

HRD PROTECTION MANUALIntroduction

The universality of human rights does not guarantee that it is indeed respected, protected, and fulfilled. On the other hand, cases of human rights violations persist, in the Philippines and all over the world. Hence, there is a need to raise people’s awareness on human rights and how to defend them.

According to the United Nations document Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 29,

“Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. Human rights defenders are identified above all by what they do…[1]

 In summary, gathering and disseminating information, advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion are often the most common tools used by human rights defenders in their work…they also provide information to empower or train others. They participate actively in the provision of the material means necessary to make human rights a reality – building shelter, providing food, strengthening development, etc. They work at democratic transformation in order to increase the participation of people in the decision-making that shapes their lives and to strengthen good governance. They also contribute to the improvement of social, political and economic conditions, the reduction of social and political tensions, the building of peace, domestically and internationally, and the nurturing of national and international awareness of human rights.[2]

 Sadly, those who defend human rights are the ones who often face risks and challenges. Human rights defenders have become victims of harassment, arrest and detention, vilification campaigns, sometimes, even torture, or worse, enforced disappearance, or extrajudicial killing. State authorities are the most common perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders.

Who will then defend the defenders in situations when the human rights defenders themselves become targets of attacks?

In recognition of the risks faced by human rights defenders, steps have been made by the United Nations, no less, to guarantee their protection.

The first major step was formally to define the “defence” of human rights as a right in itself and to recognize persons who undertake human rights work as “human rights defenders”. On 9 December 1998, by its resolution 53/144, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the “Declaration on human rights defenders”). The second step was taken in April 2000, when the United Nations Commission on Human Rights asked the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative on human rights defenders to monitor and support the implementation of the Declaration.[3]

Despite positive developments on the protection of human rights defenders, there is a need for human rights defenders themselves to come up with comprehensive and realistic strategies to ensure their protection.

This manual aims to provide human rights defenders with practical knowledge and some effective tools that may be useful for improving their understanding on human rights defender’s security and protection. The manual is intended to help defenders to undertake their own risk assessments and define security rules and procedures which suit their particular situation.

Click to Download Entire Manual/Document:  PROTECTION MANUAL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


[1] Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 29, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, Geneva, April 2004.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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11 August 2013

 
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina 
Office of the Prime Minister
Gona Bhaban, Old Sangsad Bhaban, Tejgaon
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Email: info@pmo.gov.bd
 
 

 Dear Prime Minister Hasina,

The Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP) was informed by the Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) and the ODHIKAR, a prominent human rights organization in Bangladesh, of the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of ODHIKAR by forces believed to be members of the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

We know Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan and his advocacies; we know ODHIKAR, its mandates and activities; and, we are worried of Adilur’s situation including that of his organization. As Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) we know by experience the possibilities of more violations under custody including the possibility of torture.  We are aware of the vilification proceedings usually conducted by States to organizations of HRDs to descredit their works.  Let us all be reminded that the United Nations General Assembly including Bangladesh unanimously approved the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998; that, human rights works are not anti- government unless the latter vowed to be despotic.

The nature of arrest without warrant employed by State agents against Mr. Adilur blatantly violated the due process of law.  Bangladesh, being a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2000, should know too well that actions of its agents contravene all the provisions in Article 9 of the said covenant.

We are therefore calling on the Government of Bangladesh to immediately release Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan from custody.  Respect and protect his rights including that of all Human Rights Defenders in Bangladesh.

Sincerely,

Renato G. Mabunga, Ph.D.
Chairperson, Human Rights Defenders – Piipinas (HRDP)
 
Copy Furnished:
 
 
Mr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir
Minister for Home Affairs
Email: mkalamgir@yahoo.com; minister@mha.gov.bd;
 
Barrister Shafique Ahmed
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Email: info@minlaw.gov.bd
 
Mr. Hasan Mahmud Khandaker
Inspector General of Police
Email : ig@police.gov.bd
 
H.E. Mr. Abdul Hannan
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva
E-mail: mission.bangladesh@ties.itu.int
 
Prof.  Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Email: nhrc.bd@gmail.com,
 
High Commission of Bangladesh in New Delhi, India
Email: bdhcdelhi@gmail.com
 
Ms. Saartje Baes
Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Programme Officer, FORUM-ASIA

Email: saartje@forum-asia.org

hrd-logo-sample-colored5(HRDP Statement on the 64th Int’l Human Rights Day)

On the occasion of the International Human Rights day on December 10, 2012, the Human Rights DefendersPilipinas (HRDP) salutes all working women and men in reclaiming the dignity of persons and those who continuously strive towards the achievement of all human rights for all.

Sadly, sixty-four years after the states adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), cases of human rights violations especially against human rights defenders are of an alarming number and must be urgently addressed.

Reports of extra-judicial killings of political activists, predominately those associated with grass-root organizations fighting for land distribution and against mining, have now caused increasing concern. Most of the killings are carried out by unidentified men believed to be hired goons, or associated with private armies and paramilitary groups. But most appallingly, gross violations are perpetrated by soldiers acting on behalf of private corporations and/or on mere suspicions.

Take the case of a family who were killed in Sitio Fayahlob, Barangay Datal Aliong, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, Mindanao. Juvy Capion and her two sons Jordan and John died due to fatal gunshot wounds found on various parts of their bodies. According to witnesses, members of the Philippine Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez, trooped towards the scene and strafed the house of the victims using their automatic rifles. Victims were killed instantly. Juvy Capion is from the B’laan tribe who strongly opposes mining operations conducted by SMI/Xtrata within their ancestral land.

Another human rights defender Venecia “Inday” Natingga, 49, was murdered along the highway of Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte around five (5) in the afternoon on June 19, 2012. She was going home riding a motorcycle from the town center when she was killed. She sustained seven (7) gunshot wounds. The most fatal hit her head causing her sudden death. Her family and colleagues believed the killing had something to do with Natingga’s active involvement in helping farmers acquire a small portion of land through agrarian reform. They claimed that previous owners of the Segovia Estate dreadfully contested the Natingga’s efforts.

The same fate befell Datu Jimmy Liguyon, an indigenous chieftain and Dao village captain who was shot dead allegedly by Aldy Salusad, a member of the New Indigenous Peoples’ Army (NIPAR). Liguyon was killed on March 5, 2012 inside his own house in San Fernando, Bukidnon. Before the killing, Jimmy led his community to protest against ongoing militarization of their community. He was also a staunch critic of mining activities in the area.

Repeatedly, HRDP calls on the Aquino government to proactively investigate these cases and punish those responsible. We urge the Philippine government to immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and safety of human rights defenders in the country and those who work for the welfare of the marginalized.

The acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to every human being, but undermine the fundamental role human rights defenders play in society.  Violations against HRDs leave all those whom they fight for defenseless.

Our leaders should keep in mind that the work of human rights defenders is essential to the formation of a solid and lasting free society. They must realize that human rights defenders play an important role in the process of pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law and the strengthening of democracy.

26 June 2012

PRESS STATEMENT

In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

On this significant day, the Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas together with the human rights communities worldwide commemorates this important date in pushing through a much needed process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as absolutely prohibited and universally illegal.

Torture has no place in a civilized society like ours. But we are gravely concerned of its continuing practice not only to persons under investigation but against human rights defenders.

A recent case showed that farmer-leader Franklin Barrera, 18, claimed that he was abducted and tortured by the military. This happened on June 7, 2012 in Lopez, Quezon Province.

Barrera was allegedly hit in the nape with a rifle butt when he failed to identify the persons in the picture presented by the military. He claimed that he was forced to swallow three spoonful of salt and made to drink water to liquefy it. He managed to escape and was eventually confined at Doña Martha Memorial Hospital in Atimonan, Quezon.

Given this incident, we call not just for a reorientation but also reformation of our institutions in the work for human rights, particularly the protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders with the likes of Barrera.

Soon we hope that human rights defenders are truly considered partners in the creation of a worldwide culture of human rights, peace and development — where torture becomes a thing of the past and where human rights defenders are protected in the conduct of their duties.

In the latest United Nation’s process of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last month, the Philippines claimed a decrease in the number of reported cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings; but, one victim of any human rights violations is too many. Efforts to prosecute perpetrators remain insufficient. And there is still much concern over slow convictions for human rights violations.

Up until now, cases involving Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr, who is accused of torture, killing and disappearance of political activists have not been resolved. Palparan is still at large.  Based on unconfirmed reports he is currently under the protection of close friends in the military and private individuals.

It is not a question of whether or not cases of torture have been lessened.  It is on how our government solves and permanently eradicates this procedure in their practices. The police and military should seriously respond to this challenge by identifying concrete steps, clear policy and truthful implementation of their sworn duty based on the international standards of human rights.

Finally, as a measure of sincerity to end cruel, degrading and inhuman act, the government especially President Benigno Aquino III must openly declare war against torturers, and yield them with appropriate penalties they deserve.###

By UN-OHCHR

The Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, has heard numerous accounts of the abuses faced by environmental defenders, including violence, raids on property, and even killings, during her official visits and investigations in different countries. In addition, families of defenders are often threatened or harmed. The perpetrators, she says, include government forces, as well as non-State actors, such as corporations, and members of organised crime or terrorist groups.

In her latest report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur calls for swift action by States to “give full recognition to the important work carried out by defenders” and to “combat impunity for attacks and violations against these defenders… by ensuring prompt and impartial investigations into allegations and appropriate redress and reparation to victims.”

Read more:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/EnvironmentalHumanRightsDefenders.aspx

Philippines needs a heart to protect its gems

(A Statement on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders)

February 14, 2012

In this month of love and affection, the Philippine government needs a heart to protect its gems – the Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).  HRDs are gems of precious value.  They abound in the depths of human longings.  That is, the protection and defense of the dignity of person.  They are cultivated by natural desires of loving peace and respect; tested by concrete experiences of grief and sufferings; of joys and happiness in ushering individual and community empowerment and development. HRDs are gems personified.  They check the balance of power with the scale of justice.  They keep sanity of the ‘wannabes’ from the lures of corruption and tyranny.  They call for peace in times of war.

Their noble desire to promote the well-being of all has prompted the United Nations to pass Resolution A/RES/53/144 otherwise known as the “Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms or the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders” in 1998.  It recognizes the importance and legitimacy of their works and their vital role in engaging governments on human rights issues.  Even as they find their own rights flagrantly violated, they remain “STEADFAST IN PROTEST” amid the worldwide trends of:

1)     Restrictions of the enjoyment of rights through policy enactments and legislations;

2)     Increasing restrictions to the right to expression and opinion;

3)     Women HRDs are increasingly targeted for who they are and for their work;

4)     Continuing threats to the independence and effectiveness of National human rights institutions,

The Philippines is a rich source of human rights defenders.  So rich that those hit by their brilliance aspire to shred them into pieces, threat their existence and plot all legal and extra-judicial ways to silence them.  This is the current case of Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie – a Human Rights Defender slapped with various charges from allegedly masterminding assassination plots to bombing the City of Jolo.  These accusations emanate from his being vocal on the policies and actions of the local government that violate human rights in Sulu.

Extra-judicial executions, torture, intimidation, harassment and vilification of organizations are just some realities of human rights work and human rights defenders in the Philippines.  With these realities, is an urgent call on the government to take to heart its primary responsibility and duty on the situation of HRDs.  To wit: “Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia, by adopting such step as maybe necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually or in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice” (UN Declaration on HRD, 1998, Art. 2).  With this Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas calls for:

  • an urgent enactment of legislative policies protecting human rights and development workers;
  • mainstreaming human rights in governance through the use of rights-based approach;
  • ensuring the independence and integrity of the judiciary; and,
  • Putting in place protection programmes to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of defenders from attacks and threats.

 

 

Situation of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) worldwide

February 14, 2012 .Quezon City

Criminalization” of Human Rights Defenders Condemned

 

Human rights groups here raised anew an alarm and condemned a global pattern of repression of human rights defenders and as also being experienced in the Philippines

 In a press conference co-sponsored by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP), the said organizations pointed out the widespread campaign especially in developing countries ruled by either civilian and/or military dictators.  One devious pattern is the “criminalization” of persons who defend the poor, vulnerable and marginalized against repressive governance and impoverishing development.

 One of the victims presented by Mr. Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA, was Mr.  Ales Bialitski from Belarus presently imprisoned since November 24, 2011 in his own country for promoting human rights..  Bialitski is the Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH ) and President of the Belarusian Human Rights Center “Viasna” (Viasna).  PAHRA is the Philippine member of FIDH.

“Any opposition to a repressive regime or authority,” de Mesa said, “will be branded as a crime, including the promotion and defence of human rights.”  “This we experienced during the Marcos dictatorship,” the PAHRA Chairperson continued.  Ales was convicted of alleged tax evasion.

Ms. Rita Melencio, TFDP Deputy for Operations, stated that “the cases of both Mr. Ales Bialitski and Mr. Temogen Tulawie expose the same oftentimes political character of the prosecution and persecution of human rights defenders.”  Tulawie’s advocacies included protecting people in Sulu against abuses during military operations as in the Ipil massacre,  and demanding justice and accountability for moro women victims of rape.  Charges of alleged assassination attempts was filed by Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan.  Tulawie is presently detained in Davao.

“Also those who defend economic, social and cultural rights,” according to Dr. Nymia Simbulan, Professor of U.P. Manila and Executive Director of PhilRights, “become subject of trumped up charges to silence their active defence of these rights.”  She cited the arrest of leaders and members of indigenous peoples’ communities resisting development aggression in large-scale mining, as well as those urban poor leaders asserting their right to housing against illegal demolitions.

Finally, Dr. Renato Mabunga, Chairperson of Human Rights Defenders – Pilipinas, called on all present to “become human rights defenders and stand for human rights as our common preferred values.” Adding, “after all, this administration has declared adherence to the primacy of human rights.”

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS – PILIPINAS

#45 Saint Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City

  Tel. # 437-8054  Email: hrd.pilipinas@gmail.com

January 20, 2012

  

 –

Honorable Jose Midas P. Marquez

Court Administrator

Supreme Court of the Philippines

Cc: Atty. Raul Bautista Villanueva Deputy Court Administrator   Supreme Court of the Philippines

Dear Hon. Marquez,

The Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRD-Pilipinas) would like to thank and congratulate your good office for the timely communication and instructions dated 17 January 2012 to Executive Judge Pelacio Paguican of Davao Regional Trial Court regarding Criminal Case Nos (07-09) 1648-3 and (07-09) 1649-3 involving the accused Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie – a human rights defender (HRD).  We also commend your office through your Executive Judges Pelagio S. Paguican and Peter V. Eisma for the speedy implementation of your instructions.  Such initiatives have arrested the possible further violation of rights of a human rights defender whose intent for filing a motion for transfer of trial jurisdiction is solely for justice and impartiality.

Our local members informed us that Mr. Tulawie is now in Davao City.  As such, he is under the custody of Col. Michael Dubria of the Regional Intelligence Division (R-2) of the Philippine National Police.

It is our wish that the wheel of justice will now proceed as expected and the accused be given the right to speedy trialHowever, it reached us that, until today, Tulawie’s case folder has not yet been forwarded to RTC Davao.  This is amid the Supreme Court Order dated 13 June 2011 and repeated requests and follow-ups from the family of the accused to the sala of Judge Betlee-lan Barraquias.

We are respectfully asking your good office to put a stop to the defiance of RTC Jolo to your Orders.  Such attitude of the good Judge of Jolo is an action unbecoming of a “man of law” and stains the reputation of the Philippine Courts.

We trust that you will act favourably on this request.  Thank you once again and more power.

Sincerely,

Dr. Renato G. Mabunga

Chairperson, HRD-Pilipinas

 

 –

For the case background, here’s the link:

https://renatomabunga.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/urgent-appeal-arrest-of-human-rights-defender-from-jolo-sulu/

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