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Accusations against UN expert a retaliation by
Philippines, say fellow rapporteurs
GENEVA (8 March 2018) - UN human rights experts have
expressed grave concerns about terrorism accusations levelled against the UN
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria
Tauli-Corpuz, a Philippine national.
The legal petition listing her name is an unacceptable
attack against the mandate holder by the Philippines Government, they added.
“We are shocked that the Special Rapporteur is being
targeted because of her work defending the rights of indigenous peoples,” said
Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
defenders, and Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Chairperson of the Coordination
Committee of the Special Procedures.
The UN expert was named in a Government petition filed
last month in a Manila court, accused of terrorism and alleged membership of
the New People’s Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines along with
over 600 others.
“The accusation against her comes after the public
comments made, jointly with other Special Rapporteurs, in relation to the
militarization, attacks and killings of indigenous Lumad peoples by members of
the armed forces in Mindanao; this accusation is considered as an act of
retaliation for such comments,” the experts said.
The Special Rapporteur most recently addressed the issue
in a news release on 27 December 2017, which was made in line with the
responsibility entrusted to her by the Human Rights Council to report on
alleged violations of indigenous people’s rights globally. The President’s
spokesperson reacted with hostility to the news release, publicly accusing the
Special Rapporteur of seeking to embarrass the Duterte administration.
“We call on the Philippine authorities to immediately
drop these unfounded accusations against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz and to ensure her
physical safety and that of others listed,” the UN experts said.
“We remind the Philippine Government of its obligations
under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of
1946, which sets out that United Nations experts have immunity from legal
proceedings of every kind of spoken and written acts undertaken in the course
of their mandated work,” the experts added.
“The attack against the Special Rapporteur is taking
place in the context of widespread extrajudicial executions and ongoing attacks
against voices who are critical of the current Government, including human
rights defenders. The President has himself publicly intimidated Special
“Ms. Tauli-Corpuz is a human rights defender,” the
experts said. “Therefore, the Government of the Philippines has a duty under
the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to guarantee her right to promote and
to strive for the realization of human rights.”
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the
Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest
body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name
of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that
address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of
the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not
UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from
any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
For further information and media requests, please
contact: Adriana Zarraluqui (+41229179965/ firstname.lastname@example.org)
For media inquiries related to other UN independent
experts please contact:
This year is the 70th anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948.
The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is
rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in
dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of
the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to
prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere
to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org