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PH scores UN High Commissioner for mischaracterizing human rights situation

The Philippines today scored United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for having severely mischaracterized the situation in the Philippines in his report to the Human Rights Council.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative Maria Teresa Almojuela separately called out the Commissioner for criticizing the Philippine Government’s human rights record, saying his report on the conduct of anti-drug operations was deliberate misinformation.

“The Philippines has provided the Human Rights Council with all the facts regarding the campaign against illegal drugs in our report to the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review [UPR] in May 2017,” Secretary Cayetano said.

“The Commissioner’s report would have been balanced and accurate had he considered the information that we provided, instead of just relying on uncorroborated information,” he said.

Secretary Cayetano made the statement even as he reiterated the commitment of the Philippines to continue constructively engaging the UN Human Rights Council.

“The Philippines has actively participated in the Universal Periodic Review process, and was one of the first countries to undergo the review in 2008, having championed the establishment of the UPR process under the UN Human Rights Council Mechanism,” Secretary Cayetano stated.

According to the Secretary, the report he provided during the UPR Periodic Review emphasized President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to fight the drug problem by all means that the law allows.

“The anti-illegal drug campaign should follow approved protocols to ensure the protection of human rights, and that any erring law enforcement agent would be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said the Secretary, who led the Philippine delegation to the Third Cycle of the UPR in Geneva and presented the country report.

In Geneva, Deputy Permanent Representative Almojuela responded to the Commissioner’s report, stating that “the practice of making highly-biased and sweeping generalizations, without due consideration of the facts on the ground, has no place in the Human Rights Council.”

“Like any country, the Philippines cannot and does not assert that it manages the challenges to human rights in a perfect manner, but the Philippine government, more than any party here, seeks justice and dignity for all Filipino people,” she said.

In her statement, Ambassador Almojuela underscored that the Philippines “is a democratic country that strongly adheres to the rule of law, with well-established and institutionalized human rights, policies and programs.”

“The Philippine Government investigates and prosecutes all credible allegations of human rights violations, including those perpetrated allegedly by state security forces,” Ambassador Almojuela said in her statement at the 36th Human Rights Council General Debate.

“The UPR has shown our openness to constructive dialogue to continue to enhance and strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in the country,” Ambassador Almojuela added.

The Universal Periodic Review is a state-led process, which seeks to promote cooperation among United Nations Member States in further enhancing their respective national human rights policies and practices.

Many UN Member States, especially those from ASEAN and developing countries, expressed support for the efforts of the Philippines to address the drug menace. Some Member States also committed to provide support for the Philippine drug treatment and rehabilitation plans. | DFA-PR

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