Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Dec 17 2021
MANILA— The Philippines is voting against a European Union-backed resolution before the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for an international investigation on allegations of violations and abuses in Ethiopia amid a year-old conflict in Tigray.
The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Friday to address the “grave human rights situation in Ethiopia” following a call from the European Union.
In his statement to be delivered by Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva Evan Garcia, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said the proposal to create an International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia to investigate the allegations of violations and abuses is an attempt to “take over sovereign prerogatives.”
“The proponents of this resolution on the other hand want to intervene again and right away,” Locsin said.
“While welcoming the Ethiopian Government’s decision to set up an Inter-Ministerial Taskforce to oversee redress and accountability measures, they are simultaneously seeking to create an International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, to investigate the same allegations of violations and abuses to take over sovereign prerogatives. Why? And who are they to do so?”
Locsin said the resolution “doesn’t help the situation in any way” and just “make the self-righteous feel justified in their mistaken self-importance.”
The Philippines in 2019 rejected a resolution that sought a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including alleged extrajudicial killings in the Duterte administration’s drug war.
The UNHRC then adopted the resolution filed by Iceland, among 18 countries that voted yes, including Peru and Uruguay. A total of 14 countries, meanwhile, voted no, including China.
The Philippines rejected the 2019 resolution, with Locsin calling it a “travesty.”
On Ethiopia, while expressing concern over findings of a Joint Investigation Report that included accounts of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against women and children, Locsin noted that the Ethiopian government has accepted and recognized and not disputed nor disregarded the report even as it has expressed reservations with some aspects of it.
“This [atrocity] cannot continue. But it will if we resort to the cheap tactics of sovereign usurpation by the last countries in the world entitled to substitute their judgment for that of the specific country concerned,” Locsin said, adding that Ethiopia has set up an Inter-Ministerial Taskforce “to oversee redress and accountability measures in response to these human rights violations.”
“It has begun to implement the recommendations in the Report, which we note was issued only a month ago. The Philippines welcomes these actions,” Locsin said.
Locsin called on the resolution’s proponents to “learn to respect and not pre-empt a sovereign state’s prerogative to set up its own national accountability efforts and mechanisms to address human rights and humanitarian law violations.”
“They must cease using the Human Rights Council for unilateral undeservedly self-important actions that hinder cooperative and constructive efforts to change the human rights situation on the ground,” Locsin said.
“In continuing to resort to these tactics, the proponents are weakening the Human Rights Council by turning it into an arena of condemnation and a judicial hall without due process, instead of a body for engagement, respect for sovereignty, and dialogue.
“As the Queen in Alice in Wonderland shouted, ‘First the judgment of conviction; and then the trial.’ The nerve coming from whom it does. The Philippines will not allow this. We vote NO. Thank you.”