Investigate PH published its Initial Report on 15 March, detailing the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte and other officials of his regime. The group presented its report to Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, during the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
The report exposed the numerous human rights violations by the Duterte regime and its generals, including the more than 30,000 murder victims of the ‘war on drugs’, torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, unjust detention and arrests on trumped-up charges, political repression through threats and red-tagging, forced evacuations, violations of freedom of the press and assembly, violations of International Humanitarian Law, and government abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group called on the UNHRC to establish commissions of inquiry or fact-finding missions to “help improve the situation in the Philippines and deliver measurable as well as reliable justice to victims” of human rights abuses in the country. It also appealed to the UNHRC to ensure protection of witnesses, individuals and organizations “against all acts of intimidation and reprisal”.
Investigate PH also submitted its Initial Report to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands, and urged the Court to expedite the process of opening an official investigation in the country’s situation.
Launched in December 2020, Investigate PH, or the Independent International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines, counts on eminent Commissioners, legal experts and human rights defenders from around the world to hold independent investigations to “further substantiate the landmark June 2020 report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights” on the rights situation in the Philippines. Commissioners include Australia Senator Janet Rice, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers Atty. Jeanne Mirer, World Council of Churches’ Central Committee Moderator Dr. Agnes Aboum and Education International General Secretary Dr. David Edwards.
The group plans to publish its Second Report in July 2021, which will include hearings from expert witnesses, as well as inquiries into further “emblematic cases” which were not included in the Initial Report. The Final Report is scheduled to be issued in September 2021. It will consolidate the first two reports, present the results of investigations into further violations occurring after the Second Report, a comprehensive human rights situation, submit inputs and analyses of resource persons and experts, and submit recommendations for action.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in a statement on 19 March, warmly congratulated Investigate PH for its work of “effectively exposing the crimes of the Duterte government against the Filipino people.” It commended the group for its courage, diligence and thoroughness.
“The NDFP is confident that the forthcoming endeavors of Investigate PH will bring further lasting benefits for the Filipino people.”