International Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines finds President Duterte guilty of gross human rights violations

On September 18 and 19, ASTM attended the International Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines (IPT) in Brussels. Our volunteer Julie Smit reported that after a two-day hearing, the IPT in Brussels had found the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, guilty of the violation of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, the rights of the people to self-determination and development and the violation of international humanitarian law. The IPT had been convened at the request of the victims of human rights violations under the Duterte administration, some of whom presented their testimonies to the Tribunal in person or through video. Their stories testified to the terrible human suffering resulting from the administration’s policies. Export reports illustrated in detail many aspects of Duterte’s policies such as the “drug war”, the state of martial law in Mindanao and the US funding of the Philippine military, the repression of all forms of opposition, the impact of his neoliberal economic policies on agriculture, education, housing. Women’s groups drew attention to his derogatory remarks about women and the impact on their status.
Jeanne Mirrer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and one of the IPT conveners, said that the tribunal was necessary to “create a people’s record of what is happening. » The verdict will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the European Parliament and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
After the verdict was proclaimed, a number of IPT observers made personal statements expressing their intention to make use of the outcome of the Tribunal in their solidarity work and the struggle against human rights violations in the Philippines.
The Philippine government failed to send defendants to the IPT. Presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque, said that the Tribunal was not a cause for concern as it is “a sham and not an official proceeding”. In a reaction to the Philippine government’s dismissive attitude to the IPT one of the witnesses, Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay  said « The Duterte government can dismiss the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) all they want, but it will not stop us from speaking truth to power,” 
Next week on September 25, two of the witnesses will be in Luxembourg to take part in the discussion « In Pursuit of justice: discussion with two Filippino human right defenders » organised by ASTM @7 pm at the Café Konrad. They are Cristina Palabay , Secretary General of Karapatan and John Milton Lozande, Secretary General of the Federation of Agricultural Workers.
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