KARAPATAN human rights workers take the issue

of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances

to the UN Human Rights Council




March 13, 2008    Updated March 19, 2008



Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Special Legal Consultant for Karapatan for UN Mechanisms, speaks at the UN HRC 7th Session on March 13, 2008.


Photos courtesy of KARAPATAN


UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, 7th Session, 13 March 2008


Oral Intervention by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)

Supported by the World Council of Churches (WCC), Lawyers Rights Watch of Canada (LRWC), Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC), Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN), Indigenous Peoples’ Coalition (IPC), Nord Sud XXI

Thank you, Mr. President:

I am speaking on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. This statement is joined by seven other NGOs.

I come from the human rights lawyers’ groups in the Philippines.

We wish to address the issue of human rights defenders and would like to take the opportunity to commend Ms. Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary General for her report. We salute her for her exemplary and courageous work. We welcome the report particularly on the role of stakeholders in implementing its recommendations.

The addendum mentioned the extrajudicial killing of human rights lawyer Gil Gojol who was killed after coming from a court hearing and of the surveillance of the Prolabor Legal Assistance Center which provides free legal aid to workers.

These attacks violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

These attacks are emblematic of the continuing attacks not only against lawyers - a significant number of whom are involved directly in human rights advocacy. These are also part of the impunity of the attacks against hundreds of other human rights defenders within the context of a militarist counter-insurgency approach. Suffice it to say that until today, no one has been credibly convicted for these attacks.

The Special Representative correctly pointed out that the attacks may have been related to activities in the defense of human rights. The impunity prompted one foreign lawyer to quip that these attacks may indicate that “the Philippines is the worst place for human rights defenders to be.”

These cases are incompatible with the Philippines' pledges as a member of the Council. The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal views as “unacceptable” the inclusion of the Philippine government as a member of the Council because “it undermines the credibility of the UN in this field; is an intolerable offense to the victims; and is a denial of the many well documented denunciations of the dramatic violations of human rights.”

The Special Representative observed that the high incidence of forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders in the Philippines remains a deep concern and that the absence of any credible investigation may indicate that “human rights defenders in the Philippines are unable to fully carry out their work due to fear of intimidation and reprisal.” Even foreign human rights defenders have been placed on the government’s immigration “blacklist/watchlist” for their involvement against human rights violations.

We support the recommendation of the Special Representative that the situation of human rights defenders be examined in the upcoming Universal Periodic Review.►



Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Special Legal Consultant for Karapatan for UN Mechanisms, speaks at the UN HRC 7th Session on March 13, 2008.

Atty. Olalia's speech was supported by 6 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) non governmental organizations, i.e. North/South XXI, AITPN, ALRC, LWRC, WCC, Indigenous People's Coalition.It was also supported by one prospective ECOSOC member, i.e. Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers

The support of many ECOSOC NGOs contributed to the prioritization of Atty. Olalia's intervention. He was number 19 in the beginning but moved up to number 3 after the solicited support was obtained.



We request the Council to fully support the mandate on Human Rights defenders and encourage the mandate holder to continue to support the struggle of the people for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Thank you, Mr. President.#

[1] Delivered by Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Special Legal Consultant for Karapatan for UN Mechanisms. He is also President of the International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL).

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  Inquirer news: RP lawyer takes killings to UN

  Inquirer news: Filipino rights lawyer asks UN to help rights defenders



◄ Inquirer, March 19, 2008


WORSENING STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS. Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia speaks before the United Nations Human Right Council's (UNHRC) 7th session on March 13, backing the recommendation of Hina Jilani, special representative of the UN secretary general, to include the state of human rights defenders in the country in the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Olalia cites the killing of human rights defenders in the country and the government's inability to solve this problem. Video taken from United Nations webcast. READ FULL STORY


Click this link for the YouTube video:






Philippine UPR Watch


Dear Friends,

Warmest greetings!

The cry for justice of victims of human rights violations under Mrs. Arroyo’s watch is being heard and echoed around the world. The Arroyo administration has been put on the defensive since 2006 and more so in 2007 as international censure forced it to account for its human rights record.

However, Mrs. Arroyo's government has done little to stop the political killings and disappearances except take token steps to assuage local and international outcry. Worse, the killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations continue.

As the Philippine government will undergo the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in April, it is imperative that the cry for justice be more amplified, especially since the Arroyo government's membership in the HRC is a direct insult to the victims.

It is for this reason that we human rights advocates coming from various organizations have formed the Philippine UPR Watch and have sent our respective submissions to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that has consolidated the NGO documents for the UPR.

We are sending a delegation to attend the public review in Geneva, hold consultations with concerned UN units and foreign missions and hold parallel events there. In the Philippines, we will embark on an information campaign about the relevance of the UPR as a venue where the Philippine government will have to make an accounting of its compliance with international human rights covenants.

As media is an ally in the advocacy for human rights, we come to you for help in raising public awareness on the UPR and its session on the Philippines.

Attached is a copy of the background resource on the UPR. We will gladly send you documents pertinent to this as well as the schedule of events in the Philippines and in Geneva. For inquiries, please contact Philippine UPR Watch media liaison, Ms, Ruth Cervantes at 09189790580 or 4354146.

The Geneva delegation may be reached through Karapatan Secretary General, Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez at 09178176274.

Thank you.

On behalf of the Philippine UPR Watch, we remain

Edelina P. dela Paz, M.D.



Fr. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.

General Secretary

National Council of Churches in the Philippines

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■   Background resource on the Universal Periodic Review Information for NGOs

■   Human Rights Council: The successive steps of the Universal Period Review process


7th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
 Marie Hilao-Enriquez signs up to speak
Atty. Edre Olalia and Marie Hilao-Enriquez of KARAPATAN

Ms. Enriquez of KARAPATAN and May Wan Posa Dominado, daughter of abducted human rights worker Luisa Posa-Dominado, meet with members of the UN's WGEID

Ms. Enriquez of KAPARATAN with Slovenian Mission


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