GENEVA (1 May 2019) – UN human rights experts* have expressed grave concerns over renewed accusations brought against the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, by the Philippines authorities.
The Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Brigadier General Antonio Parlade, told a news conference in Manila on 13 March that the United Nations had been infiltrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines through Ms. Tauli-Corpuz.
“The new accusations levelled against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz are clearly in retaliation for her invaluable work defending the human rights of indigenous peoples worldwide, and in the Philippines,” said the UN experts.
“The claims against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz that she is affiliated with the Communist Party and terrorist activities are without grounding in fact or law.” In fact a Manila court decision dated 27 July 2018, effectively ordered the name of Ms. Tauli-Corpuz to be removed from a petition filed by the Department of Justice seeking to declare the Communist Party as a terrorist organisation.
The Special Rapporteur, a Philippine national, has been repeatedly targeted by the authorities, accused of terrorism and alleged membership of the New People’s Army. Last year, the President’s spokesperson publicly accused the Special Rapporteur of seeking to embarrass the Duterte administration.
“The criminalising discourse used by Philippine public officials undermines the value of the vital work of human rights defenders, denigrates them in the eyes of the public and may put them at risk of threats, violence or other forms of harassment,” said the experts.
“We call on the Philippine Government to immediately stop these unacceptable attacks on the human rights work of Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, and to ensure her physical safety.”
Mr. Michel Forst is Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Ms. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (Ireland), Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism