A group of UN experts for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged [press release] the government of the Philippines on Monday to address reports of human rights violations that include threats against indigenous people, murder and the summary execution of children. The experts stated in a joint call for action, “We are shocked by the increasing levels of violence, killings, intimidation and harassment being suffered by human rights defenders—including those protecting indigenous peoples—trade union organizers, farmers and their family members.” Predominantly among those attacked were individuals who were protecting the rights of the Lumad indigenous peoples of Mindanao island. The Lumad have been subjected to severe threats such as President Rodrigo Duterte’s [official profile] call for an attack [Guardian report] on tribal schools. The group of experts have contacted the government of the Philippines concerning the reports.
The Philippines have been on the international spotlight ever since Duterte took office as the president. During Duterte’s campaign last year, he had stated 100,000 people would die [Guardian report] in his crackdown on crime. Duterte promised last week to continue to escalate [JURIST report] the war on drugs in his country despite international concern over human rights violations. Earlier in July Duterte asked Congress to extend his order of martial law [JURIST reports] for the lower third of the country. Also in July the Philippines Office of the Ombudsman [official website] announced plans to charge [JURIST report] former Philippines president Benigno Aquino III [Britannica profile] for the botched “anti-terror” raid that led to what is known as the Mamasapano massacre in 2015. In June Philippine opposition lawmakers petitioned [JURIST report] the Supreme Court [official website] to reject President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law. In April a lawyer filed a complaint [JURIST report] against Duterte accusing him of extrajudicial killings during his nationwide anti-drugs crackdown. In March the Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report accusing the police of falsifying evidence [JURIST report] in relation to the alleged police killings of citizens. This policy of sanctioned killings has been part of Duterte’s rhetoric since his time as mayor of Davao City. In December the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] called for a murder investigation [JURIST report] after Duterte admitted to killing people while he served as mayor of Davao.