UN called out the killings of human rights defenders in the Philippines during a press briefing on Friday at Geneva. 

“We are saddened and appalled by the ongoing violence and threats against human rights defenders in the Philippines,” said Liz Throssel, representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 

Two human rights defenders in the Philippines were killed in two weeks. 

According to Throssel, the Philippine government maintains that they denounce “any forms of violence” against its citizens and activists.

Throssel also noted that investigations into the two killings are already in progress, as per the country’s presidential office statement. 

Randall “Randy” Echanis and Zara Alvarez, were both defenders and advocates of farmers’ rights in the Philippines. 

They were killed by unknown assailants. 

According to the President’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, the president is not involved with the recent activists’ killings. 

Allegations against President Rodrigo Duterte were “unfounded”, Roque said, as per Manila Times

Dangerous Place For Human Rights Activists?

89 human rights activists were killed between 2017 to 2019, said an official of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR), ABS-CBN, a local news media reported. 

CHR’s commissioner, Leah Armamento noted that the activists were “red-tagged” or linked to communists before they were killed. 

According to her, the state’s law enforcement, the Philippine National Police(PNP) tagged the killed activists as leftists or belonging to leftist groups. 

Also, before the killings, they reported being followed by unknown surveillance.  

“Human rights defenders, farmers” and “civilians” are being killed with “brazen impunity,” Peter Murphy, Chairperson of an international human rights group in the Philippines.

According to him, the “Duterte government’s policy of political killings” deserves “international condemnation.” 

According to the IBON Foundation, a non-profit research organization, more than 3,000 illegal arrests were conducted under the current government.

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