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UN Human Rights Council review to include Aquino years
In this Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 photo, people and a policeman looking at the body of a woman, later identified by her husband as that of Nora Acielo, still clutching the school bag of her child, are reflected in a pool of water after she was shot by still unidentified men while walking with her two children to school at a poor neighborhood in Manila, Philippines. Lawyer Jude Sabio from the Philippines has asked prosecutors of the International Criminal Court, ICC, to investigate his country's president for crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and other crime suspects. AP/Bullit Marquez, File
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is set to undergo a universal periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council next week, which a human rights watchdog sees as an opportunity to put the country's drug war under tighter scrutiny.
The Philippines, along with 13 other countries, will comprise the first batch of countries in the third cycle of the review, which will run until 2021.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra will lead the 16-member delegation from the Philippines to attend the UPR in Geneva, Switzerland on May 8.
The Philippines will present national reports on actions taken to improve the human rights situation in the country since the last review was done during the Aquino administration.
"There are a lot of facts that need to be clarified and put in proper context so our friends in the United Nations and the international community will understand the extent of problems of corruption, illegal drugs, and criminality in the Philippines," Cayetano said.
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The Philippines will also present the country's policies on labor, the environment and vulnerable sectors such as women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly.
UN members urged to call for probe on drug war
New York-based Human Rights Watch said that UN member countries should urge the Philippines to support an international investigation into the killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.
“The UN review of the Philippines is critical because of the sheer magnitude of the human rights calamity since President Duterte took office last year," Phelim Kine, deputy Asia durector at HRW, said.
The upcoming review will cover the last five years of the Aquino administration and first 10 months of the Duterte administration.
"Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has been nothing less than a murderous war on the poor," Kine said. He said "Human Rights Watch will moderate a side event in Geneva, co-hosted with other NGOs, to assess the review and the Philippine delegation’s responses" after the periodic review.
The international human rights watchdog documented the existence of police-linked death squad. It also noted that killings of activists, peasant and indigenous peoples' leaders, environmentalists, journalists and suspected criminals particularly persisted in under the Duterte administration.
The UPR is a peer review on the human rights situation of all countries. It is designated to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
UN member states are reviewed every cycle which lasts for four and a half years. The current review is at its third cycle and will run until 2021. The first cycle started on April 2008 while the second cycle began on May 2012.
A working group comprised of 47 current members of the HRC oversees the review, which takes place at the UN Office in Geneva.
The Philippines will undergo three stages under the review: the preparation stage, review stage and implementation stage.
Under the review stage, the country will present its national report and the adoption of the outcome report. It is also where UN member states pose questions, comments and recommendations to the state under review.
The second stage is where the state under review may accept, reject or comment on recommendations. A summary of proceedings will be adopted as an outcome report.
The final state involves the way forward or actions taken on accepted recommendations arising from the last review, which was in 2012, in the case of the Philippines.