United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) recently made a landmark SOGI Resolution seeking triumph over discrimination. The UN through the resolution made a firm resolve to support efforts for policies that protect the rights and promote the welfare of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions.
LGBT groups welcome this new development as an important step towards greater sensitivity, equality and respect for diversity in the world. For the Filipino LGBT community, what made this historical feat more meaningful is the affirmative vote of the Philippine Mission of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the UNHRC in Geneva.
The challenge according to them now is to translate this international commitment into local legislation.
Please read full story at http://world.einnews.com/article_detail/226818802/PTb6eYgI7krKp1H3?n=2&code=uK_pQ4zSngo6aZh3
Photo file courtesy of www.theguidon.com
By ABDUL HANNAN TAGO, RIYADH
Filipino migrant rights group recently made an appeal to the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) labor market committee that recommends a two-year ban for all expatriate workers who will be leaving the Kingdom on final exit visas.
The Migrant Middle East (MME) groups, pleaded to the CSC labor committee to reconsider its two-year ban proposal for expatriate workers leaving the Kingdom on final exit visa.
The group said that imposing a ban on expatriate workers is within the Saudi government Labor Ministry’s prerogative in order to boost its own Saudization program which for them would mean hiring more Saudi nationals into the business sector services and job opportunities.
They added that even the existing labor policy that stipulates a one-year ban on workers who refused to renew their contract with their employers is worth reconsidering.
They also call on the Filipino government, through its labor department, to proactively interact with its Saudi labor counterpart to discuss the implications of the proposed two-year ban.
Please read full report at http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/655256
Photo file courtesy of globalnation.inquirer.net
By Darwin Mendiola
The recent murder of a 26 year old Filipino transgender woman named Jennifer Laude by a U.S. Marine once again ignited public protest and renewed a call for wider recognition and better protection of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans-genders and queers in the Philippines.
As a human rights advocate, I firmly stand on the spirit and letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that recognizes that (Article 1) “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that (Article 2) “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without discrimination.”
I wrote this article not to get into the nitty-gritty of the case but to simply share these important facts about LGBTQ and Hate Crime for the information of everyone.
This is a product of online research and not solely of my opinion.
But I strongly believe that sharing these Ten Facts that People should know about LGBTQ and Hate Crime can contribute to further promote and protect human rights.
#1 According to 2011 study of the United Nations, LGBTQ people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to crimes because of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
This first ever United Nations report on the human rights of LGBTQ people provides details on how around the world people are continuously being discriminated and have endured hate-motivated violence, because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The report identifies homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as the major motivations for hate crimes against LGBT people.
#2 Still, 76 plus countries around the world considered homosexuality illegal.
According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), there are at least 99 people around the world who are currently in prison for allegedly violating laws that punish those who are born gay, lesbian or bisexual. While at least 148 other people are awaiting trial on charges related to homosexuality.
#3 As a response to this alarming global gender situation, the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed this year a landmark resolution condemning violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people.
The resolution states that the world needs to take a fundamental step forward by reaffirming one of the Human Rights’ key principles – that is everyone is equal in dignity and rights. It encourages all UN states-members to take necessary legal, legislative and judicial measures to address human rights violations against LGBTQ.
#4 Even the Catholic Church is now considering reviewing its conservative stance on homosexuality as Pope Francis called on the Church to welcome gays and lesbians in the community, who “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
Pope Francis reiterated this call on the Church during the Catholic Synod or the meeting of All Bishops to tackle a number of controversial issues facing the Catholic Church, including how to respond to changing families and how to better communicate Catholic doctrine. Pope Francis’s famous “Who am I to judge?” position has made him the “Man of the Year 2014” for LGBTQ.
#5 The United States of America is one of the countries that recognizes and addresses the issue of Hate Crimes.
President Barack Obama signed in 2009 the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands the existing United States federal hate crime law to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. In fact, the first hate crime laws in the United States were passed after the American Civil War, beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1871, to combat the growing number of racially motivated crimes.
#6 In the Philippines, a study backed by the UN has found that LGBTQ people have become more accepted in the Philippines.
The Filipino public seems to take a rather an open and tolerable view of the gay community, at least judging from popular media and the widespread use of gay lingo. But according to Ladlad, one of the LGBTQ groups in the Philippines. discrimination against LGBTQ still persists and they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hate crimes. The UN study found hate crimes remained a big threat among the LGBTQ community in the Philippines. It cited that there were at least 28 LGBT people reportedly killed in the first half of 2011.
#7 The Commission on Human Rights performs a function of a Gender Ombud.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) announced in 2013 that the Commission will look into cases of hate crimes against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders (LGBTs) across the country which hopefully lead to a better prosecution and investigation of hate crimes.
#8 Hate Crime is not yet a distinct crime in the Philippines.
LGBTQ groups claimed that violence against LGBTQ people is not treated as a hate crime. There is no specific mechanism that helps identify hate crime victims or makes use of the sexual orientation and gender identity of the person as the aggravating circumstance for the commission of the crime. It is not even investigated as such and just merely considered as a common crime against any person and/ or property. LGBTQ groups lament the absence of an anti-Hate Crime law in the Philippines. The fact that there are no basic figures and statistics on Hate Crimes shows that the government has not considered as such in past years.
#9 Just recently, Sen. Bam Aquino filed the Senate Bill No. 2122 or the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2014, which seeks to combat discrimination of any forms. The bill seeks to prohibit and penalize discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, civil status, HIV status and other medical condition, among others. Among the acts that will be prohibited are inflicting stigma; denial of political civil, and cultural rights; denial of right to education such as refusal to admit or expulsion and imposition of sanctions or penalties; denial of right to work; denial of access to goods and services; denial of right to organize; inflicting hard on health and well-being; engaging in profiling; abuses by state and non-state actors; and detention and confinement. Under the bill, any act of discrimination shall be fined from P100,000 to P500,000 and an imprisonment of up to 12 years. A similar bill was filed by Rep. Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, last June 26 which aimed to pioneer a House probe on the growing numbers of hate crimes in the country.
#10 Quezon City, Philippines’ largest city has approved ordinance that bans anti-gay discrimination.
The ordinance is the first of its kind in the Philippines. It expands the 2003 City Resolution which only centered on discrimination of homosexuals in terms of employment.
The new city-wide ordinance makes it mandatory to educate employers and educators around the city on the rights of LGBTQ.
It prohibits and provides sanctions on any violations of LGBTQ’s rights on equal access to job opportunities, delivery of goods or services, insurance, and accommodation in Quezon City.
Under the new ordinance, establishments will be directed to designate a comfort room that can be used by all genders, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
While immediate focus should be on resolving the significant rise of alleged Hate Crime, much attention should also be given to any forms of discrimination against LGBTQ community.
Though, crime prevention is primary a government’s responsibility, prevention of any forms of discrimination is everyone’s business. It is about time for all of us to get out of the jury box with all our biases and prejudices. It must begin from us. For all we know recognition comes respect and respect begets responsibility which entails accountability.
Photo file courtesy of www.rappler.com
By Medical Action Group
Torture is considered a crime under the international human rights law. It is prohibited everywhere, at all times, and no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be used to justify it. However, the practice of torture continues unabated throughout the world including the Philippines.
Torture means “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
It most often takes place in places of detention – where people deprived of liberty are especially vulnerable to mistreatment. Women in detention are usually subjected to gender-based violence. While there are those who are subjected to acts of torture on the grounds of their sexual orientation, ethnic origins, religious and political beliefs, age or disabilities.
Almost anyone can be at risk of torture – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or political beliefs.
No one is safe.
Yet, no one is punished for committing torture.
Ms. Edeliza P. Hernandez, MAG Executive Director discusses the UN Convention Against Torture before the participants of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Training Workshop on International Affairs and Policies held on October 22-24, 2014 at Torre Venezia Hotel in Timog Avenue, Quezon City.
You may download the presentation here.
By Atty. Ricardo Sunga III
Within one year from ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Philippines is obligated to establish a national preventive mechanism. It is one or several visiting bodies, set up, designated or maintained, at the domestic level, for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
There is range of possible forms that the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) can take. This paper explores them. Section I of this paper considers the standards that the NPM must observe. Section II critically examines the various possible forms of the NPM through the lens of these standards.
This paper was written by Atty. Ricardo A. Sunga III for the United Against Torture Coalition in 2012.
Ricardo Sunga III, LLB (University of the Philippines) and LLM (University of New South Wales), is a member of the Philippine Bar. He has been a professorial lecturer at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and is currently a Law Reform Specialist of the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights. He is also the Regional Coordinator for the National Capital Region of the Free Legal Assistance Group, an organization of human rights lawyers.
Photo File: Courtesy of www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk
You can download the UATC Position Paper here.
By Darwin Mendiola
Human rights violations particularly extra-legal killings (ELKs), enforced disappearances (EDs) and torture continue to occur in the country with total impunity.
Until now, not a single person has been brought to justice. Even in high-profile cases which have been swiftly investigated, they only ended up in imposing of administrative sanctions against suspected perpetrators rather than filing of criminal charges.
The establishment of a National Monitoring Mechanism (NMM) could have been a significant step towards the effective prevention of these heinous offenses and breaking through the prevailing climate of impunity by finding resolutions to all these crimes.
In fact, it was one of the positive developments that the Philippine government cited in its report for the Universal Periodic Review in 2010. It even received huge international supports for funding and technical assistance.
However, after more than three years the creation of such body remains stalled and has only devolved into a mere mechanism of consultation and discussion on human rights issues instead of moving forward by ensuring that remedies are available to victims and their families as well as guaranteeing that impunity is addressed.
The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) as the national human rights institution is tasked to convene the relevant government agencies and non-government organizations to revive the effort of establishing an effective monitoring body.
But its creation was eventually overshadowed by issuance of the Administrative Order No. 35 series of 2012 creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra Judicial Killings (ELKs), Enforced Disappearances (EDs), Torture and other Grave Violation of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons under the Department of Justice.
To make the NMM relevant, there is a need to resolve its complementation with AO 35 in order to avoid duplicating the function of monitoring the progress of specific cases and to provide the kind of information needed to push a criminal case involving an EJK, ED or torture to its resolution.
While the different stakeholders agreed that the NMM can still be a case-based monitoring mechanism to help identify the obstacles to pursuing accountability through our seemingly ineffective criminal justice system, but it should evolve into a more programmatic approach that includes human rights promotion and prevention of such violations and the provision of different services to victims and their families. The NMM can also provide an avenue for the substantive role of civil society and a significant degree of victim participation in the monitoring process.
However, this dilemma may have pushed the CHRP to look the other way than just merely focusing its attention to the three major human rights violations (e.i. ELKs, EDs and Torture). For the CHRP, the NMM should be a comprehensive monitoring mechanism of determining government compliance with international human rights treaties in the government’s functions, systems and processes with the end in view of harmonizing them with the standards and principles of human rights and recommending appropriate measures and actions.
What the CHRP is trying to do is simply to extend its functions as the institutional human rights monitoring body to the NMM rather than making the NMM a unique body with specific goals and priorities.
While it is true that civil and political rights violations are related or caused by violations of other fundamental rights such as Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, but addressing these cases will require specific attentions and approaches especially in providing victims of such violations with adequate means of apportioning responsibility.
How the NMM can be an effective monitoring body with a specific or broader mandate, will really depend on how the stakeholders especially the state security forces are committed to work with due diligence.
Because in the end, the families of the victims are the ones who are left waiting with uncertainty, while they have not given up on their search for the missing, whether dead or alive, and seeking justice for those who were tortured and ill-treated.
Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales.
Photo File: Courtesy of newsinfo.inquirer.net