Monday, December 12, 2016

Wrong understanding of human rights work | Inquirer Opinion

See - Wrong understanding of human rights work | Inquirer Opinion

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Wrong understanding of human rights work
12:03 AM December 12, 2016

When governments try to silence human rights defenders, they do so either by penalizing their activities or, in most instances, by labeling them as obstacles to law enforcement.

Amnesty International Philippines is appalled at President Duterte’s statement that the work being done by human rights defenders only helps the drug problem proliferate. And his threat to include human rights defenders in the “harvest”—referring to the drug personalities killed and targeted for extrajudical killing—is not only disturbing; in itself it incites hatred toward anyone who expresses opposition to his war on drugs.

Amnesty International Philippines would like to emphasize that the extremely polemical attacks on human rights defenders deliberately give the public inaccurate information about human rights work.

International human rights laws state that it is the obligation of governments to refrain from acts that are counterprogressive to promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

In many parts of the world, human rights defenders risk their safety and their lives to monitor and challenge human rights violations and abuses. As it is, human rights defenders face all kinds of risks—intimidation and misinformation, fabricated criminal charges, forced disappearance, imprisonment, torture and murder.

The United Nations’ Declaration on Human Rights Defenders recognizes the importance and legitimacy of human rights defenders. The Philippines is a signatory to this declaration.

Amnesty International believes that government support for the rights of human rights defenders is one of the most important ways it can ensure human rights for all.

Without human rights defenders, injustices go unchallenged, the most marginalized and vulnerable people in our societies will not have a say and they will have little protection from abuses of power; and governments and businesses can act with impunity.

MARIA EDILYD ORIAS-PALMA, program coordinator, media, communication and publications, Amnesty International Philippines

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