Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

Philippines seeks 'terrorist' tag for 600 alleged communist guerrillas

MANILA (Reuters) - A U.N. special rapporteur, a former Philippine lawmaker and four former Catholic priests are among more than 600 alleged communist guerrillas the Philippines wants declared “terrorists”, according to a government petition filed in court.

The justice ministry last month said it wanted a Manila court to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), “terrorist” bodies, but made no mention of individuals it would also target.

The petition, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, suggests President Rodrigo Duterte is following through on his threats to destroy a movement he now regards as duplicitous.

Since taking office in July 2016, Duterte freed some communist leaders and put leftists in his cabinet, to show his commitment to finding a permanent solution to a five-decade conflict.

But he abandoned the process in November, after what he called repeated attacks by the NPA during talks.

The petition said the rebels were “using acts of terror” to sow fear and panic to overthrow the government.

Duterte has been regularly venting his fury at the Maoists and considers them as much of a security threat as the domestic Islamist militant groups that have pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

By declaring groups and individuals terrorists, the government would be able to monitor them more closely, track finances and curb access to resources, among other measures.

But Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher with the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the petition was “a virtual hit list”.

“There’s a long history in the Philippines of the state security forces and pro-government militias assassinating people labeled as NPA members or supporters,” he said in a statement.

‘BASELESS, MALICIOUS’

The government petition included Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, appointed in 2014 as U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, who was listed as a senior member of the Maoist rebel group.

Tauli-Corpuz denounced the government, calling the complaint “baseless, malicious and irresponsible”.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein defended the independence, impartiality and expertise of special rapporteurs in the face of smear and hate campaigns, some involving incitement to violence.

“Instead of attacking the messenger, states and other stakeholders should engage and address the human rights concerns raised by mandate-holders,” he said in Geneva.

Two other U.N. special rapporteurs, Michel Forst and Catalina Devandas Aguilar, expressed “grave concern” about Tauli-Corpuz being on the list, and said she was being punished by Duterte for speaking against some of his policies.

Also on the list were four former Catholic priests and former congressman Satur Ocampo, who told Reuters he would challenge any “terrorist” label.

The petition included 18 top leaders of the CPP, including founder Jose Maria Sison and peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, both based in the Netherlands for three decades.

There was no basis for the charge of terrorism, said Sison, who was a mentor of Duterte when he was at university, although the two are now bitter rivals.

“Duterte is engaged in a wild anti-communist witchhunt under the guise of anti-terrorism,” he said. “Duterte is truly the No. 1 terrorist in the Philippines.”

Duterte’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the Maoist rebellion. Negotiations to end the revolt have been on and off since being brokered by Norway in 1986.

Author: Manuel Mogato
Source: http://reut.rs/2plu6Se

Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in GENEVA; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel

Permanent Forum stands by indigenous human rights defenders in the Philippines

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expresses its grave concerns about the Philippine government’s accusation against indigenous human rights defenders as terrorist group affiliates.

The indigenous human rights defenders include, among others, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Joan Carling, former member of the Permanent Forum and Jose Molintas, former member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

Read more at the UNPFII Website: 

https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/news/2018/03/unpfii-indigenous-human-rights-defenders-in-the-philippines/#more-28749

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UN expert urges consistent policies for US on indigenous peoples’ rights for projects like Dakota Access Pipeline

By UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

A UN human rights expert has called on all levels of government in the United States to adopt consistent practices when consulting with indigenous tribes on projects that could affect their rights, like the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The appeal was made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, at the end of a mission to the US to assess the impact of energy development projects. During the visit, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, noted that, in spite of a US commitment to positive and meaningful engagement with tribal governments, challenges remained.

The Special Rapporteur said: “The legislative regime regulating consultation, while well intentioned, has failed to ensure effective and informed consultations with tribal governments. The breakdown of communication and lack of good faith in the review of federal projects leaves tribal governments unable to participate in dialogue with the United States on projects affecting their lands, territories, and resources.”

Nevertheless, the Special Rapporteur saw encouraging steps being taken by federal agencies to follow procedures set out in the UN’s Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.  She said: “Since 2012, the federal government has made commendable efforts to develop policies toward more robust measures.

“I also applaud the January 2017 joint report from the Departments of Interior, Army and Justice to solicit recommendations on engaging tribes in infrastructure-related activities. I am encouraged by the process of meaningful consultation with the tribes that the United States undertook in creating this report, and applaud the efforts made by the government to consider ways in which to improve consultation processes.”

In order to meet the obligations of the UN Declaration, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said the United States should continue to build efforts to incorporate principles of meaningful consultation with the goal of obtaining free, prior, and informed consent from indigenous peoples as set out in the Declaration.

She added that given the impacts on indigenous peoples of the Dakota Access Pipeline, she was deeply concerned by a presidential memo on 24 January clearing away the last hurdle so that construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe could begin. The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about similar issues on other projects.

The Dakota Access Pipeline issue and other examples in Ms. Tauli-Corpuz’s end of mission statement highlight the many water concerns associated with energy development. In places like the arid west, the substantial volumes of water used in drilling operations cause stress on water supplies. Contamination of underground and surface waters is also a concern, with many projects threatening vital resources in water-scarce regions.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said: “A recent Environmental Protection Agency study found scientific evidence that activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle can affect drinking water resources through spills, faulty well construction, discharges into surface waters, or disposal into underground injection wells. For indigenous peoples, water provides life, subsistence, and has undeniable spiritual significance. In Lakota, they express this belief as ‘Mni Wiconi: water is life’.”

However, the Special Rapporteur says the outlook is not entirely bleak.  A number of tribes have made entrepreneurial efforts to create tribal utilities for the benefit of their own and neighbouring communities, and are involved in a wide array of energy generation and transmission as large parts of tribal lands are used for the national electrical grid system.

“Indian tribes are owners and operators of new and emerging technologies, breaking the mold of reliance on outside entities,” the Special Rapporteur says. “These examples and many more are proving that by exercising political sovereignty, indigenous peoples can approach energy resource development in a diverse way to support economic sovereignty.”

Indigenous communities in the United States want more control over their energy resources as part of their overall desire for self-determination with respect to their lands, territories, and resources. They are committed to balancing many different sets of concerns in their own approaches to energy development.

The tribes rely on the income generated from natural resources to not only support critical government programs, but also to balance the protection of their lands, waters, and sacred places with the benefit of revenue and jobs.

“I have been very impressed by the remarkable and unshakeable resolve tribes have to find creative ways towards self-determination. Two such companies include the Missouri River Resources, a wholly-owned tribal company by Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation which is dedicated to using best practices in the oil and gas industry to generate economic benefits for the tribal community through responsible oil development. Similarly, the Red Willow Production Company, a company wholly owned and managed by the Southern Ute Tribe, has been generating revenue through oil and gas development on their reservation since 1992 and continues to maximize benefits for their tribal community while carefully managing their lands and resources.”

The Special Rapporteur says: “Tribes must continue to be supported to develop capacity and resources to realize self-determination to take advantage of their expanded authority in all areas including in energy development and law enforcement.

“I urge the government to continue to honour its treaty and trust obligations to indigenous peoples to ensure that native communities are not further plagued by violence,” said Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, adding that she hoped the government would provide adequate financing.

Finally, I recommend that for any extractive industry project affecting indigenous peoples, regardless of the status of the land, the United States should require a full environmental impact assessment of the project in consideration of the impact on indigenous peoples rights.”

During her official visit to the United States, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz met Government and State officials, a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations working on indigenous rights. She also visited indigenous communities to hear directly from them about their issues and concerns.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report containing her findings and recommendations to the United States Government and the UN Human Rights in September.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

UN Human Rights, country page: United States

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21290&LangID=E

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