[Statement] Real action for real justice! Break Impunity!

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) welcomes any and all efforts to promote, protect and defend human rights. The creation of the Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination (Special Committee) under Administrative Order No. 22, however, starts on the wrong foot with no meaningful consultation and participation from human rights and civil society groups. This is contrary to the claim of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its March 8, 2024 Facebook post that “CSOs participation is indispensable in the whole-of-nation approach for the promotion and protection of human rights … the CSOs received the proposal to establish a Human Rights Coordinating Council (HRCC) that will continue to enhance the implementation and monitoring of government policies and programs in the field of human rights.”

TFDP has consistently engaged with the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP) and other government agencies, not only for capacity building, but more importantly, to demand accountability, promote transparency in governance, and ultimately to break the cycle of impunity. In order to clear the cloud of doubt hanging over the creation of the Special Committee and to preclude any conclusion that it is meant to window dress government performance on human rights and justice, we recommend the following for immediate action:

As a meaningful step towards accountability, dismantle the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC); prosecute the red-taggers and perpetrators of human rights violations; repeal the Anti-Terror Law; rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC); implement whatever actions the ICC would take; implement the recommendations of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and allow unhampered visits of the UN Special Rapporteurs.

Government officials have said time and again that they are human rights defenders. Let that be translated to real action.

The Special Committee should endorse the following:

the enactment into law of the proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection Act; the enactment of the proposed law seeking to establish the National Preventive Mechanism in compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the immediate ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

The measure of respect for human rights is not in words but in deeds. Real action for real justice! Break Impunity. Be Accountable. Dispense Real Justice.