There are “systematic attacks” against human rights defenders (HRDs) across all sectors of civil society during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Sunday, after concluding its 104-page report.
“Such attack is characterized by a widespread and similar pattern of abhorrent acts, practices, and omissions, that put the life, liberty, and security of HRDs at great risk,” the CHR said.
Among the violations and abuses the current administration allegedly inflicted on HRDs were:
- distortion of the concept of human rights
- public vilification
- profiling and surveillance
- militarization of government
- the weaponization of the law
- shrinking civic space
- climate of impunity
According to the CHR report, 134 HRDs were killed since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“The prevailing climate of impunity in the context of violence against HRDs is largely attributable to the pronouncements of the President (Duterte),” the report said.
“The legitimization of violence against HRDs is further made possible by the government’s insidious practice of drawing-up lists and matrices of alleged enemies of the state.”
Red-tagging was described as the “act of labeling, branding, naming, and accusing individuals, and/or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists.”
“Aside from its consequent de-legitimization of dissent and public stigmatization, it is, more often than not, a prelude, or even an open invitation for anyone, to commit further atrocities against the person tagged,” it said.
HRDs were also painted as “coddlers of criminals or even criminals themselves.”
Due to this, when crimes were committed against the HRDs, the crime is concluded to be justified due to the red-tagging.
“The mere assertion they are included in… any other enemy of the state list, could be enough for investigators to look no further into the case or otherwise make some haphazard conclusion that the atrocity is justified,” it said./Stacy Ang