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Investigate PH: The World Needs To Act Now On Duterte Gov’t’s Rights Abuses

Global independent probe on rights abuses in the Philippines launched, announced 3 reports for submission to UN human rights body

The Independent International Commission of Investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines or Investigate PH was launched this week on January 26 and 28. The commission expressed urgency for accountability of perpetrators and justice for victims and their families.

The landmark launch happened in two time zones where more than 300 participants from lawyers organisations, civil society and churches all over the world came together to manifest their support for the global project.

“Investigate PH is a critical space of solidarity and accompaniment of the people of the Philippines as it investigates the blatant violation and violence related to the basic human rights of people,” says one of the commissioners, Rev. Michael Blair, current General Secretary of the United Church of Canada’s General Council.

The creation of Investigate PH was prompted by the resolution of the 45th UN Human Rights Council session on the Philippine rights situation, also known as Resolution 45/L.38, last October 2020 that fell short of victims and the international community’s demand for an independent probe on the country.

“The gravity of the violations underlines why the world needs to know about these human rights abuses and to act to stop the crimes. I put it to everyone at this event that if we were Filipinos, we would surely have suffered under the Duterte government. The evidence is overwhelming. The testimonies [are] tragic,” Investigate PH Commissioner Lee Rhiannon and former Senator of Australia said, pertaining to her solidarity visit in the Philippines last 2019. 

In the global launch, commissioners of Investigate PH call on the international community to act now on the human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. Currently, the Commission is composed of 10 eminent personalities namely:

Lee Rhiannon, Former Senator of Australia

Atty. Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Atty. Jan De Lien of the Justis Lawyers Group of Belgium

Atty. Suzanne Adely, President of the National Lawyers Guild

Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs

Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches

Rev. Michael Blair, General Secretary of United Church of Canada

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society, the United Methodist Church

Archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of Netherlands, and Central Committee member, World Council of Churches

Dr. David Edwards, General Secretary of the Education International

Leaders of international lawyers’ groups, political leaders and global church groups have formed the Investigate PH to gather evidence on crimes against humanity in relation to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” and the persecution of human rights defenders and civil society organisations.

New York-based human rights lawyer Atty. Jeanne Mirer said that, “The UNHRC and the ICC needs to have a record of what is happening on the ground. Since the Philippine government is not doing the investigation, Investigate PH will do it.”

Three reports to the UNHRC, ICC

It was announced in the global launch that the international probe will submit their findings by way of oral interventions and submissions at Enhanced Interactive Dialogues and General Debates in the upcoming UNHRC Regular Sessions.

Two preliminary reports will be released in time for the 46th and 47th UNHRC sessions in March and July 2021 respectively, and one final report in time for the 48th UNHRC session in September when the High Commissioner will deliver an update on the implementation of Resolution 45/L.38.

“We are preparing a submission on these crimes to go to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” says Rhiannon and added that “what is happening in the Philippines amounts to crimes against humanity. These crimes must end.”

Investigate PH will also submit their findings to the International Criminal Court. They aim to update the Bachelet report on the Philippine rights situation released in June 2020 and help facilitate international mechanisms for redress and acco

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