NGOs ask EU to start suspension of Philippines' trade preferences over human rights

EU FlagIn a joint letter with European civil society organizations, the members of the Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen (AMP) conveyed their profound concern about the gross and systematic violations of human rights occurring in the Philippines. While extrajudicial killings in the government’s War on Drugs continue unabated, human rights defenders, the political opposition and the free press increasingly come under attack.

The EU is therefore urged to address this situation by starting the withdrawal procedure of the trade preferences the Philippines enjoy under the GSP+ scheme which are linked to the adherence to international human rights standards. Since the withdrawal procedure stipulates a monitoring and evaluation phase of six months, the Philippine government would have a final chance to avoid the loss of the status. The letter suggests a number of concrete steps which the Philippines could undertake to improve the human rights situation immediately.

Joint NGO letter to Commissioner Malmström, December 14, 2018

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AMP discusses Philippines' GSP+ status in European Parliament

Side-Event GSP+ Europäisches Parlament 2018On March 20, the Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen together with MEP Barbara Lochbihler and our partners of Sri Lanka Advocacy co-organized a roundtable discussion in the European Parliament on the strengths and weaknesses of the EU’s trade preference scheme GSP+ as a mechanism to promote human rights. Under the GSP+ program the EU reduces import tariffs for countries like the Philippines and Sri Lanka which have to undergo a rigorous human rights monitoring in exchange.  

During the debate, Mr. Ellecer Carlos from the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) stressed that the massive and rapid deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines is not limited to the Duterte’s War on Drugs which has already cost the lives of an estimated 13,000 people. Rather, the government is also systematically dismantling democratic and judicial institutions and is cracking down on civil society.

Carlos therefore asked the EU to issue clear criteria the Philippine government needs to fulfill to keep its trade preferences. These should include an immediate end of the police operations in the War on Drugs and an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, to visit the country.

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Human Rights Violations Against Members of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente

Bishop Carlos MoralesThe Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen (AMP) is deeply concerned about the severe human rights violations suffered by members of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI - Philippine Independent Church) which include the illegal arrest of Bishop Morales, the killing of two lay members, and the surveillance of IFI clergy.

Because the IFI has always been vocal about injustice and human rights violations, the church has a history of being targeted by state security forces who accuse its members of supporting the communist rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA). This includes the murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento in 2006 and of the lay member and anti-mining activist Benjamin Bayles in 2010. We are extremely worried that the new cases of harassment and violence represent a resurgence of repression against the church which has somewhat decreased in recent years.


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Joint Civil Society Letter Calling Human Rights Council Members for Action

Human Rights CouncilThe Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte - Philippinen joint a number of international human rights organizations in calling on the members of the UN Human Rights Council to urgently address the Situation in the Philippines:

Dear Excellencies:

We write to you to reiterate our grave concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines, and to call on your delegation to reflect this concern in both joint and individual statements at the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

During the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council in June, over 30 states, supported a joint statement calling on the Philippines to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms and allow the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to visit the country without conditions, and to accept and implement the recommendations that it received during its Universal Periodic Review last May.

Joint Civil Society Letter to Members of the HRC 36, September 11, 2017

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Human Rights Defender Tulawie faces new fabricated charges

Cocoy TulawieThe Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen is deeply concerned about Mr. Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, a human rights defender and local politician from Jolo, Sulu, who faces charges for kidnapping which appear to be politically motivated and without factual basis. This is already the second time Mr. Tulawie faces spurious criminal charges. He already had spent several years in prison after he was falsely accused of a bomb attack against the former provincial governor Abdulsakar Tan in May 2009. We assume that both charges were fabricated by Mr. Tan to silence him.
As a member of the human rights group Bawgbug, Mr. Tulwie uncovered numerous human rights abuses and violations on the part of the local government in Sulu, among them mass rapes of women and girls allegedly committed by the sons of prominent politicians and their paramilitary forces. He also denounced the declaration of a state of emergency of the province by Governor Tan as unconstutional.
Mr. Tulawie is now charged with being the mastermind behind the kidnapping of the German journalist Andreas Lorenz. Mr. Lorenz was abducted himself in 2000 while reporting for the German magazine Der Spiegel on the Sidapan hostage crisis and the kidnapping of the German family Wallert by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

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