‘Stop the Killings! Defend Human Rights!’ Network

Research network echoes EU’s call for int’l election monitoring amid escalating violence and vitriol

The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) lauded the comprehensive resolution by the European Union (EU) Parliament on the recent human rights developments in the Philippines. The EU’s legislative body voted 627 out of its 684 members to pass the resolution last Feb 17, 2022. 

“This resolution meant not only greater affirmation of the human rights crisis under the Duterte government, but a victory for victims seeking justice and accountability,” says APRN’s Board of Convenors Chair Dr. Azra Talat Sayeed.  

“As a network of research and advocacy groups, we in APRN, commend efforts of well-meaning EU member states to bring more attention to what is happening in the south-east Asian country,” says Sayeed. 

The Network also throws their weight behind the EU’s call to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to commence its investigation. “We demand that Duterte and all perpetrators pay for their crimes and that it should be done without delay,” Sayeed adds.  

The research group is referring to the section of the resolution urging the ICC to continue its probe into the allegations of crimes against humanity in the context of the thousands of killings during the ‘war on drugs.’

November last year, the ICC temporarily suspended the investigation after the Philippine government submitted a deferral request to the Court’s prosecutor.  This drew flak from rights groups, with some calling it a betrayal of witnesses and orphaned families who came forward to testify. 

Ensuring a peaceful elections

The Network also supports the EU Parliament’s resolve to monitor the electoral situation in the Philippines. “We echo the EU’s call for fair and free elections. The emerging vitriol and violence in the ongoing electoral campaigns is alarming. We should let the Duterte government know that the world is watching,” says APRN in a statement. 

“All the more that we need the international community to empower local and international watchdogs,” Sayeed adds. 

According to the resolution, the Philippine government should “step up their efforts to ensure fair and free elections and a nontoxic environment” for campaigning. The Parliament expressed its regrets for the Philippine authorities’ failure to invite the EU to conduct an election observation mission. It also sounded the alarm on the current state of the national elections citing reports of disinformation and hate campaigns amid growing ‘troll armies’ in Philippine cyberspace.

APRN welcomes the Parliament’s call on its EU Delegation and representatives of its Member States’ to “give their full support to independent local election observers, to regularly meet with them and to closely follow up on any incidents reported during the election campaign.” 

Recently, an International Observer Mission (IOM) was launched by civil society and rights groups to provide independent monitoring of the Philippine elections from the start of the campaign, the vote and the eventual outcome. 

Global rights group International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), the initiator of the IOM, underlined the escalation of violence in the country during elections citing a history of “inter-elite rivalry, warlordism, assassination, vote-buying corruption, intimidation and other forms of violence.”

APRN calls on the EU to support the IOM. The Network further enjoins its members and allies to help the observer mission in any way they can.

“Electoral watchdogs and observation missions play a role in deterring intimidation and further violence during these democratic exercises. With the scale of the human rights crisis in the Philippines and the region, we have to ensure, more than ever, that elections are fair, democratic and peaceful.” Sayeed ends.#