PH mission, UN body to tackle involuntary disappearances

February 12, 2019, 5:36 pm

MANILA – A Philippine delegation will engage with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID) during its 117th Session in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on February 11-15 to discuss cases of alleged enforced or involuntary disappearances attributed to the Philippines from 1975 to 2012.

The meeting aims to demonstrate the sincerity, openness, and the commitment of the Philippine government, especially under President Rodrigo R. Duterte, to respect, protect and fulfill human rights as part of the Duterte administration’s governance agenda, anchored on people protection and on accountability of State actors in the law enforcement and security sectors.

The country’s delegation is composed of middle-level government officials from the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, Department of Justice, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Presidential Task Force on Media Security, and Presidential Communications Operations Office.

During the meeting, the Philippine delegates will expound on the country’s domestic mechanisms to address enforced or involuntary disappearances (EIDs).

Also to be tackled is the country’s current international engagements to address EIDs, such as through the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and engagements with the concerned UN treaty bodies like the Human Rights Committee that monitors State-party compliance with obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

The Philippine mission will likewise underscore the need to strengthen UN human rights monitoring mechanisms, to include the need for the WGEID to exercise due diligence in reviewing cases received in light of contentious and flawed information surrounding these cases.

The country’s delegation in Geneva, which regularly engages the WGEID, views the meeting as an important opportunity to engage UN human rights mechanisms, especially after the Philippines’ recent re-election for a fifth-term in the UN Human Rights Council from 2019 to 2021.

The UN WGEID is part of the Special Procedures system of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is a central element of the UN human rights machinery.

The WGEID is composed of five independent experts who examine questions relevant to EIDs, with the primary task of assisting families in determining the fate or whereabouts of their family members who have reportedly disappeared. (PR)