Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to look into the continuing spate of human rights violations against environmental defenders in the Philippines.
“We ask UNHRC member states to investigate the human rights atrocities affecting more than 19,000 environmental defenders under President Rodrigo Duterte,” read the group’s appeal.
They said the UNHRC must probe “how attacks undermine the work of these defenders in protecting more than six million hectares of critical landscapes across the Philippines.”
Clemente Bautista, international network coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said that amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Philippine government “is more bent on silencing” those who oppose mining and other “destructive economic initiatives.”
The UN human rights body convened on September 14 for its 45th general session amid a “global day of action” of various human rights coalitions across the world.
Kalikasan PNE noted that since it submitted a report on the situation of Filipino environmental defenders to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in January this year, the violations against environment defenders have only worsened.
At least 557 environmental defenders reportedly suffered physical assault, illegal arrests, harassment lawsuits, and other human rights violations during the pandemic, said Bautista.
The UN Human Human Rights Council’s general session will run from Sept. 14 to Oct. 6, 2020.