An international human rights group on June 29 has included the Philippines on its watchlist of countries where democratic space is “heavily challenged.”
CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society groups and activists, has rated the state of civic freedoms in the country as “obstructed” in its 2020 CIVICUS Monitor.
The monitor is an online platform that tracks the situation of democratic spaces such as the freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly in various countries.
In a statement, the group said the country has been included in the human rights watchlist because of its attacks on media and the proposed anti-terror law “that puts human rights at further risk.”
In recent months, the group said that there is a “rapid decline” in fundamental democratic freedoms in the country.
“Attacks on press freedom and the use of the pandemic to crackdown on dissent have contributed to a narrowing of civic space in the country,” the group said.
The group said the law aimed to give President Rodrigo Duterte special powers to address the coronavirus pandemic has provisions against “the spreading of ‘false information’ online, which could be used to curtail freedom of speech and silence the media.”
“Journalists have since been targeted,” the group said.
CIVICUS said it will “closely track developments” in the country and “engage with the United Nations Human Rights Council” in its ongoing 44th Session that will end on July 17 in Geneva.
The Philippines is among the 49 countries in the world that the situation of civic rights and freedom is rated “obstructed.”
The rating is given to countries where civic space is heavily contested by power holders, “who impose a combination of legal and practical constraints on the full enjoyment of fundamental rights.”
Other Asian countries included in the rating classification are Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Mongolia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, and Timor Leste.
Depending on the date that provides for democratic space rating, countries can be rated in the CIVICUS Monitor as closed, repressed, obstructed, narrowed, or open.