Advocacy statements

UPR statement on the Philippines

  • Date / 2017
  • Location / Philippines
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review


International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 36th Session (11 September – 29 September 2017)

UPR Outcomes: Philippines 


This statement is supported by the Filipino Freethinkers.

The IHEU was extremely disappointed by the reaction of the Philippines in response to concerns raised by a number of states about extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances and torture in President Duterte’s so-called-war-on-drugs. Its talk of ‘alternate facts’ being spread by critics and the media seeks to deny the existence of the problem and essentially brands those questioning this narrative as liars.

Regrettably, the Philippines has given no reason to expect improvement. On the contrary, on 16 August, Filipino police killed 32 people in what is believed to be the highest death toll in a single day in this “war” that has cost over 7000 lives since 30 June 2016.

Since the review, President Duterte has continued to threaten human rights defenders and those who criticise his ruling, saying that that they will be shot ‘if they obstruct justice.’ Whilst these comments are notable in their going against a plethora of human rights standards, there is also something deeply cynical about the targeting of those who aim to defend people who can’t defend themselves.

We applaud the government for standing firm against pressure from the Catholic Church and other critics and adopting the Reproductive Health Act. Access to SRHR education and contraception is essential for women to fulfil a wide range of rights, particularly in a country where long-standing hostility towards modern contraception had contributed to 4,500 women dying from pregnancy complications, 800,000 unintended births and 475,000 illegal abortions each year.

We were regretful that no recommendations were made calling for the Philippines to revoke the penal code article criminalising acts that “offend religious feelings.” As pointed out by the Special Rapporteur on FoRB (and his predecessor) anti-blasphemy laws undermine the human right to free expression and freedom or religion or belief. We would like to take this opportunity to the Philippines to remove this article with urgency.

Suggested academic reference

'UPR statement on the Philippines', Humanists International

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