CITED ON REPORT | UN rapporteur: Support Filipino women human rights defenders
3 weeks ago
(FEBRUARY 19, 2019) – The United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders named detained Senator Leila de Lima, ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa as among prominent women leaders being silenced by the government.
In a report submitted by rapporteur Michel Frost to the Human Rights Council’s 40th session, he called for more support on women who protect human rights for their important role in its advancement.
It also noted that women rights defenders are often subjected to online threats and harassment.
“Women leaders who represent their groups and speak out on issues tend to be targeted for their visibility – not only to silence them but also to discourage broader dissent,” the 20-page UN report stated.
Frost then called on the Philippine government to stop what he called the “public stigmatization, defamation, judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest and criminalization of defenders” of human rights defenders and activists.
Among those cited by the international organization are three of the staunchest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte who happen to be women.
In the case of de Lima, UN noted that she has been in jail since February 2017 “for denouncing Duterte’s war on drugs, which has led to violence, extrajudicial killings and human rights violations.
Sereno, meanwhile, was unseated in May last year through a quo warranto petition that questioned her eligibility as chief justice. The UN report referred to this as an “unconstitutional decision” by the High Court.
“Ms. Sereno had objected to President Duterte’s policies on drugs and martial law, afterwhich he publicly pushed for her resignation,” the report read.
Just last week, Ressa, one of TIME’s Persons of the Year in 2018, spent a night at the National Bureau of Investigation after being denied to post bail on her cyber libel case. She also faces tax evasion charges.
“[Ressa} has been indicted for tax evasion charges in what is considered political persecution in response to critical reporting on the government,” the report said.
Malacañang and Duterte himself had lambasted the UN many times for meddling on the Philippines’ justice system.
The president had also publicly stated that he will ignore any investigation to be conducted by the UN on his bloody war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, according to police numbers.
Special rapporteurs also had a taste of Duterte’s tirades.