UNHRC flayed for endangering lives
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has politicized human rights which is an act that endangers lives, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in slapping down a recently issued statement of the UN agency assailing President Rodrigo Duterte and his anti-narcotics campaign.
“Politics is politics but politicizing human rights endangers lives,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano added the signatories in the UNHRC statement also criticized “blindly” since they are not aware of the local situation.
The UNHRC statement urged the government to stop alleged killings related to the war on drugs while citing what it termed as “reports of harassment of persons exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.”
“Unfortunately, it seems our friends are really not interested in arriving at the truth and would rather rely on the misinformation being fed to them by parties that have politicized and weaponized human rights,” Cayetano said.
Invitation stands — Cayetano
“We regret that Iceland and several other countries maintained their position, despite our offer for them to visit the Philippines and objectively assess the human rights situation, especially at the community level,” Cayetano said from New York.
Cayetano, who is presiding over a command conference for Filipino diplomats from the Americas, said he even personally extended an invitation to Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson to visit Manila to see for himself the human rights situation in the country.
EU failed on migrants
The Philippines also raised European countries’ failure to adequately address the problem of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in response to a pointed statement of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued by Iceland and signed by mostly European nations.
“[The signatories are part of] a minority in the 47-member Human Rights Council,” Philippine Permanent Representative Evan Garcia said.
Among the countries which signed the statement were Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States.
“We are respectful of our international human rights obligations.”
Garcia raised before the UNHRC the rising “xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiments” in parts of Europe, including some of the countries that “spoke against the Philippines.”
“We are shocked by the persistent abusive and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, whether legal or otherwise, their lack of inclusion in society and their oftentimes woefully limited access to all kinds of service,” Garcia said in response to the joint statement.
“The Philippines remains a responsible member of this august body. We are respectful of our international human rights obligations. We remain a free, dynamic and democratic society. There is no basis, therefore, for the Council to be concerned with the situation in the Philippines,” Garcia said.
Right of reply
In exercising the Philippines’ right of reply during the general debate, Garcia cited numerous reports of exploitation of migrants under conditions of great vulnerability.
“We remind countries that have such severe shortcomings, including the United Kingdom and Australia, that the Philippines has preferred to engage with them in a positive manner, whether bilaterally or multilaterally,” Garcia said, citing as examples the Global Forum for Migration and Development and in the ongoing negotiations for the Global Compact on Migration.
“This is in stark contrast to the needlessly confrontational attitude they have taken in [the Human Rights] Council,” Garcia added.
He said developing countries are hosting 80 percent of the world’s refugees today.
“It is a shame for developed countries to keep their eyes shut to this growing concern,” he said.
“The Philippines, a developing country even with its more than 100 million population, has been doing its small part in sharing the global burden of the protection of refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless persons and other persons of concern,” Garcia said.