By Roy Mabasa
Human rights experts from the United Nations have welcomed a Philippine court ruling in which the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is classified as "non-party to a recent government application concerning the New People & # 39; s Party (NPA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as terrorist organizations.
In a Monday statement, the UN Human Rights Experts also urged the Philippine government not only to respect the court ruling, but also all human rights defenders on the list of terrorists & # 39; to create an environment that would allow them their legitimate work of defending rights without reprisal or fear.
On 27 July a regional court in Manila took a decision in connection with a petition filed by the Ministry of Justice in February 2018, in which more than 600 persons were accused as terrorists and alleged members of the CPP-NPA. Tauli-Corpuz was one of the listed ones.
"While we welcome this decision, we are still very concerned about the continued naming of many others, including human rights defenders, in the petition, because it labels them as terrorists," said the UN experts.
The UN experts noted that since the tagging "there has been a global response to the so-called" terrorist list & # 39; "
"The inclusion of Ms. Tauli-Corpuz was considered an act of retaliation for public comments she had made about the Philippines in her mandate as Special Rapporteur, said the experts.
Dainius Pūras, chairman of the Special Procedures Coordinating Committee, said that such an unacceptable attack against a UN mandate such as Tauli-Corpuz is a "very serious cause for concern".
"Over the years, member states of the Human Rights Council have appointed independent experts to assess the human rights situation around the world, so these Member States have a corresponding responsibility to ensure and respect the authority and legitimacy of UN experts. to ensure that they can perform their duties in a safe and unhindered way, without any harassment, "Pūras stressed.
The rapporteur, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst, who gave his voice to the call, said: "The inclusion of human rights defenders, including indigenous peoples, on the government list boils down to intimidation and intimidation of people who peacefully defend their rights. . "
"Removing some prominent names from the list will not stop us from drawing attention to the situation of the others, whose physical safety and integrity are still under enormous pressure," added Forst.