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Int'l body to probe rights violations in the Philippines launched

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An international commission to investigate alleged human rights violations in the Philippines was launched on Thursday.

In a statement, the Independent International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines or Investigate PH said it was created under a resolution of the 45th UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in October last year.

“Investigate PH is a critical space of solidarity and accompaniment of the people of the Philippines as it investigates the blatant violation and violence related to the basic human rights of people,” said commissioner Rev. Michael Blair, who is also the general secretary of the United Church of Canada’s General Council.

The resolution was pushed with the victims and the international community’s demand for an independent probe on the country involving rights abuses.

Investigate PH is composed of leaders of international lawyers’ groups, political leaders and global church groups, who will gather information about the human rights issues in the country.

According to the commission, over 200 people from lawyers organizations, civil society, and churches from different countries came together to manifest their support for the global project.

“The gravity of the violations underlines why the world needs to know about these human rights abuses and to act to stop the crimes,” said commissioner Lee Rhiannon, who is a former senator in Australia.

I put it to everyone at this event that if we were Filipinos, we would surely have suffered under the Duterte government. The evidence is overwhelming. The testimonies [are] tragic,” Rhiannon added.

During the launch, the commission called on the international community to act now on the human rights abuses supposedly perpetrated by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Investigate PH is composed of the following leaders:

  • Lee Rhiannon, Former Senator of Australia
  • Atty. Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers
  • Atty. Jan De Lien of the Justis Lawyers Group of Belgium
  • Atty. Suzanne Adely, President of the National Lawyers Guild
  • Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs
  • Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches
  • Rev. Michael Blair, General Secretary of United Church of Canada
  • Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society, the United Methodist Church
  • Archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of Netherlands, and Central Committee member, World Council of Churches
  • Dr. David Edwards, General Secretary of the Education International

The commission will gather evidence on crimes against humanity in relation to Duterte’s “war on drugs” and the persecution of human rights defenders and civil society organizations.

Reports from the Investigate PH will be submitted to UNHRC and International Criminal Court. —LBG, GMA News

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