HomeNewsHouse panel passes bill protecting human rights defenders

House panel passes bill protecting human rights defenders

The bill, if enacted, would also establish a Human Rights Defenders Protection Committee

The human rights committee of the House of Representatives passed this week a bill that seeks to protect human rights defenders from threats and harassment.

A consolidated version of the proposed measure, titled Human Rights Defenders Protection Act, was approved by the committee on February 28.

“The substitute bill is largely based on the Model Law for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders with respect to the rights of HRDs and the corresponding duties and obligations of the State and public authorities,” said the bill’s principal author, Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay.

In a statement, he noted the “tragic plight” of human rights defenders “as a result of the relentless persecution against them by the government.”

He said such attakcs “shamefully aggravates the State’s culpable non-compliance with the constitutional mandate that the ‘State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.’”

Committee chairman Rep. Bienvenido Abante of Manila said for human rights defenders to be effective, they need to work in a “safe and enabling environment.”

“This measure makes it clear that we stand steadfastly behind those who work to champion human rights and shows the world that we will do what is necessary to enable human rights to flourish in our country,” said Abante.

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Among the rights that the proposed law will protect are:

  • Right to promote and protect human rights
  • Right to form groups, associations and organizations
  • Right to seek and receive and disseminate Information
  • Right to communicate with non-governmental governmental and intergovernmental organizations
  • Right to peaceful assembly
  • Right to freedom of movement
  • Right to privacy
  • Right against vilification

The bill, if enacted, would also establish a Human Rights Defenders Protection Committee, which will be composed of a chairperson and six members.

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