Pro-environment groups in the Philippines have filed a complaint before the country’s Commission on Human Rights against state agents for alleged harassment.
The group cited attempts by police officers to raid the office of a non-government organization and threats to arrest people who helped displaced tribal people.
“The [national police] and other state forces should be held accountable for the series of rights violations against rights and environmental defenders,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
Among those who signed the complaint were representatives of Kalikasan, the Center for Environmental Concerns, rights group Karapatan, and Save Our Schools Network.
Dulce said the series of harassment of activist groups reaffirmed a Global Witness report published September that named the Philippines as the world’s most dangerous country for rights and environmental defenders.
The international watchdog accused the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte of failing to act on the alleged abuses against land and rights activists.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said the human rights situation in the country is “getting worse every day” as state forces try to silence critics of the government.
She said that while pro-environment advocates and activists in the capital Manila are being intimidated “rights and land defenders are being killed” in the provinces.
Karapatan recorded at least 266 political killings and 89,534 cases of threats, harassments, and intimidations from 2016, when Duterte came to power, to June 2019.
“The deaths, illegal arrest, and incessant harassment against our organizations and our colleagues are indicative of this government’s vindictive and systematic policy to silence dissent,” said Palabay.
In a statement, Global Witness called on the government to guarantee the security of activists and ensure that due process is followed in judicial processes brought against them.