UPR of the Philippines: extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances still problematic
Thursday, 31 May 2012 16:47


On 29 May 2012, the UPR Working Group examined the human rights situation in the Philippines.  The Philippines was represented by a 29-member delegation headed by Ms Leila de Lima, Secretary Minister of the Department of Justice of the Philippines. In her opening speech, Ms de Lima noted President Aquino’s Social Contract with the Filipino People, ‘a 16-point agenda built on a strong foundation of respect for human rights’, and the Aquino administration’s ‘holistic rights-based approach in all major decision and policy-making activities’.


Main achievements were subsequently elaborated upon. Increased funds allocated to educational, health, and anti-poverty programmes were mentioned, as well as other institutional improvements. The ratification of international instruments, in particular the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the OPCAT (a recommendation emanating from the first cycle), and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was also referred to. Domestic legislation adopted in compliance with ratified international instruments was presented, examples being the Anti-Torture Act and the Magna Carta of Women, which were both adopted in 2009. Finally, measures taken to eradicate extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances were underlined.


64 States took the floor, limiting each State to 1 minute and 52 seconds of speaking time. The interactive dialogue focused on the still prevalent occurrence of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, an issue that was similarly brought up during the first cycle of the UPR in 2008. All 64 States started by congratulating the Philippines on its efforts to fulfil the 2008 UPR recommendations and the very detailed and informative report it produced for the second cycle. Nevertheless, several States asked for additional information, most of them focusing on the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Several States initially praised the progress made in this area but continued by highlighting the remaining challenges. The US and UK in particular criticised the low number of convictions in this regard, and brought up residual difficulties for victims to access justice. The Filipino delegation replied, as it did in its national report, by repeatedly citing the recent ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (the OPCAT) and the Anti-Terrorist Act adopted in 2009. Multiple statistics were also provided, which at times tended to confuse more than to clarify.


Other issues mentioned included human trafficking, migrant workers, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive rights.


The main recommendations made to the Philippines were:

  • To step up efforts to fully prohibit cases of torture, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances, and to end impunity by bringing perpetrators to justice, in particular to ensure the adequate protection of journalists and human rights defenders
  • To enhance human rights-based training for all security forces
  • To ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, withdraw all reservations to the Convention Against Torture, and ensure national legislation is in line with the Rome Statute
  • To invite the UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders to visit the country, as well as to consider issuing a standing invitation to all special procedures in general
  • To dismantle and disarm all paramilitary forces and militia
  • To step up efforts to combat human trafficking, child labour, and to fully prohibit corporal punishment
  • To step up efforts to meet the basic needs of vulnerable groups, to redouble efforts to eradicate poverty, and to increase measures to ensure equal access to education for all children, with special attention given to children with disabilities and street children


Members of the delegation took turns replying to the questions and comments. Quantitative information was provided to support their replies. According to Ms de Lima, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are part of a ‘complex issue’ linked to the prevailing corruption in the Philippines. The existing cases are in fact prioritised and are at different stages of investigation or prosecution. To prove that the fight against impunity and corruption is taken seriously by the current administration, the recent impeachment of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was given as an example.  


At the adoption of the report of the Working Group, the Philippines announced that it would accept 53 out of the 88 recommendations made to it, of which it considered 8 to already be in the process of being implemented including recommendations made to ratify the Rome Statue, and recommendations relating to the rights of women, migrant workers, and and trafficking. The delegation added that, in the weeks prior to the review, a tri-party monitoring group had been created to monitor the implementation of UPR recommendations. The Government intends to ensure that as broad a set of stakeholders as possible are involved in the implementation process, with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of that process. The Philippines will give its position on the remaining 35 recommendations no later than the 21st session of the Human Rights Council, in September. 

Last Updated on Friday, 01 June 2012 14:54
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