10 December, 2018
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Today on International Human Rights Day, 152 civil society organisations and activists have signed on to a letter sent to Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, expressing deep concern on the deteriorating state of democracy and human rights in the Philippines.

Since the Duterte administration has come into power, at least 440 political prisoners, 56 of whom are women, have been arrested on trumped up criminal charges. Since the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao at least a thousand people have been killed in the Marawi siege. On top of this, there have been 88 documented extrajudicial killings of activists, mostly peasants and indigenous peoples, and nearly half a million people displaced from their homes and deprived of livelihood.

Women have suffered threats and intimidation in an environment that is increasingly treading the path to a full-blown dictatorship and military rule, enabling extra-judicial killings  and encouraging a macho-fascist culture with impunity. The Philippines is a dangerous place for women,” said Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi Convenor and APWLD Member, Philippines. In the Philippines and around the region, women human rights defenders bear the brunt of sham democracies  and a global regime of wanton disregard for human rights.

The Government of the Philippines should put people’s rights and interest at the center of its governance. Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA and APWLD Member, Philippines said, “The Government of the Philippines must stop committing human rights violations, provide access to justice with full resource to victims and survivors of state condoned human rights  violations, and prosecute and punish human rights violations.”

Philippines government has ratified most of core international human rights treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It  also adopted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Misun Woo, Regional Coordinator of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Thailand said, “We are alarmed by the Duterte administration’s continuous, intended choice to violate human rights and fundamental freedoms of its own people. Those choices are made to keep the political, and socio-economic power tight to the handful few. However our eyes are open to see the inspiring waves of movements, led by courageous woman human rights defenders, reclaiming people’s sovereignty, human rights, justice and hope.  Today, on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we stand in solidarity with all human rights and freedom fighters in the Philippines.”  

As part of the international human rights community, civil society demands the Government of Philippines to fulfill its obligations to recognise, and support protect human rights defenders and create an enabling environment that upholds democracy and human rights .

Read the letter and the list of signatories

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development has also released a video today highlighting human rights violations and global solidarity with human rights defenders in the Philippines. Watch the video here.


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Marion Cabrera


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Neha Gupta


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