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Chito Gascon Led Commission on Human Rights During Trying Years

The Philippines has lost a beloved human rights defender. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, known to all as “Chito,” who had chaired the governmental Commission on Human Rights since 2015, died October 9 from complications due to Covid-19, his family said. He…
Commission on Human Rights Chair Chito Gascon, center, leads families of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings in the "war on drugs" in a march calling for an investigation by the UN Human Rights Council in Manila, Philippines, July 9, 2019.
News

‘Knock and Plead’ Strategy Puts Lives at Grave Risk

The authorities in the Cordillera region of the northern Philippines have adopted a counterinsurgency strategy drawn from methods used in President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs.”  Known as tokhang, a Visayan word meaning “to knock…
A woman carries a slogan condemning government attacks on activists at a rally to mark International Women's Day, Manila, Philippines on March 8, 2021.
News

Duterte Doubles Down on Brutal Policy, Imperiling UN Program

The Philippine government has extolled a new United Nations program as a clear indication of its commitment to human rights – a spin that flies in the face of the bloody rights catastrophe that is the government’s “war on drugs.” On July 24, Manila…
Families of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings in the so-called "war on drugs" with portraits of their slain relatives on July 9, 2019, in Manila, Philippines.
News

Governments Need to Match Commitments with Action

Earlier in July, governments, philanthropies, and the private sector pledged almost $40 billion at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris to fight gender inequality over the next five years. The aim is to accelerate progress on women’s and girls’…
A girl holds the hand of a boy in Agadez, Niger on October 9, 2018.
News

Nonoy Espina Was at Forefront of Struggle Against Attacks on the Media

The Philippines lost one of its foremost press freedom fighters Wednesday night. Jose Jaime Espina, popularly known as “Nonoy,” died from liver cancer just days after recovering from Covid-19, his family said. He was 59. A longtime journalist based…
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chairman Nonoy Espina speaks to other journalists and activists as they gather to hold a vigil on the eve of the promulgation of the Maguindanao massacre trial on December 18, 2019 in Manila, Philippines.
News

UN Human Rights Council Should Launch Own Investigation

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s chilling promise to “drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out […] because I’ll kill you” may finally come back to haunt him. Today the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou…
Protesters hold up pictures of victims of extrajudicial killings during Human Rights Day protests in Manila
News

Case Underscores Law Enforcement Failure to Use Body Cameras

The killing on Monday of a woman allegedly by a drunken, off-duty police officer has once again put the spotlight on abusive police conduct in the Philippines. The fatal shooting in Quezon City of Lilybeth Valdez, a 52-year-old mother, was caught on…
Veiled protesters, mostly relatives of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings by the police
News

General Eleazar Opens ‘Drug War’ Case Files to Investigators

Two recent developments signal possible improvement in the conduct of the Philippine National Police (PNP), which has been deeply implicated in President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly “war on drugs” and other abuses. One was the announcement Monday by…
Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar
News

Governments Should Bolster Respect for Landmark Arms Ban

Governments should reinforce the global ban on chemical weapons by suspending the rights and privileges of Syria, a party to the treaty that has violated it with impunity for years.  This week, states that are parties to the Chemical Weapons…
A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.
News

61 Lawyers Murdered During Duterte Administration

More lawyers have been killed in the five years since President Rodrigo Duterte took office than under any other government in Philippine history. Data collated by the news website Rappler found that 110 lawyers were killed from 1972 to the…
Protesters hold signs during a rally in front of a giant banner that reads, "Stop The Killings."
News

All Countries Should Urgently Repatriate Citizens

On the surface, it seems like a happy ending: a 4-year-old Canadian girl is flown home to Canada on Sunday after living the first half of her life under the Islamic State (ISIS) and the second in a squalid detention camp in northeast Syria. But her…
A 4-year-old Canadian girl after her rescue from a detention camp
News

Limited Community Outreach Blunts Impact of Accountability Efforts

A German court in the town of Koblenz this week will render its first verdict in a historic trial of two former Syrian officials for atrocities during Syria’s decade-long brutal armed conflict. The two accused in the case are an alleged former…
Photos of Syrians who have been detained or disappeared set up by Families for Freedom, as part of a protest in front of the court in Koblenz, July 2, 2020. 
News

Police Accuse Tribal School of Training Child Combatants

On Monday, police in the central Philippine city of Cebu raided a temporary school for displaced Indigenous children and detained 26 people, including 19 children. Police allege the school was training children as “armed combatants” for the communist…
Arrested teachers and adult Indigenous students confer with their lawyer while detained in a Cebu City jail. 
News

President Says He’ll Block ABS-CBN Even with New Franchise

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared this week that he would not recognize any new license granted by Congress to ABS-CBN, the major television network that the government forced off the air in July 2020. Duterte repeated his claim – already…
Employees light candles outside the headquarters of broadcast network ABS-CBN corp. on May 5, 2020, after the network was ordered to halt operations after its congressional franchise expired, in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines.
News

Long Overdue Investigation of Deadly Practice

The Armed Forces of the Philippines surprisingly announced this week that it was investigating Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. after he accused a journalist of “aiding terrorists by spreading lies.” The military’s provost marshal was tapped to lead the…
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr.
News

Floundering Government Finds New Ways to Confiscate Wealth of Syrian Citizens

On February 2, Syria’s Ministry for Media and Information posted a video in which Colonel Elias al-Bitar, head of the army’s Exemptions and Reserves Branch, informed the country of an amendment that allows authorities to seize the property of “…
A Syrian flag flies in the city of Maarat al-Numan, near Idlib, Syria, February 12, 2020.
News

House Passes Bill Increasing Age of Sexual Consent to 16

The Philippines House of Representatives took an important step this week to protect children with the passage of a bill raising the age of sexual consent from 12 years, one of the lowest in the world, to 16. The proposed legislation, which must still…
Members of Congress convene at the House of Representatives in Quezon city, metropolitan Manila, Philippines, in this May 31, 2017 file photo. 
News

Abuses Rampant in Debold Sinas’ Previous Assignments

President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas as the new head of the Philippine National Police (PNP), despite the officer’s troubling human rights track record. Sinas did little to assuage concerns, vowing at his oath-…
Major General Debold Sinas
News

A Positive Step, but Thousands Still Held Incommunicado

On November 4, local news outlets reported that the Syrian government had released over 60 individuals from detention facilities in southern Syria and Damascus. While not the first such release, the news is a positive development in an area where…
A checkpoint in the Syrian city of Daraa.
News

Ottawa Should Repatriate 46 Others Held in Northeast Syria

After months of inaction, the Canadian government announced Monday that it had repatriated a 5-year-old orphan, Amira, who was trapped in a camp for Islamic State (ISIS) suspects and family members in northeast Syria. Amira’s overdue rescue should not…
A girl stands in front of a chainlink fence