Contribution by the Dominicans to the UPR on the Philippines

Contribution by the Dominicans to the UPR on the Philippines

In May 2017, Dominicans for Justice and Peace contributed to the review of the Philippines in the process of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations. This UN mechanism, initiated 8 years ago by the Human Rights Council, assesses the human rights practice of each Member State of the UN every four and a half years. This review process is a unique opportunity for Dominicans at the local level to share their views on the human rights situation in their country and to raise concerns in an international forum. Before the review, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) compiles the information produced by NGOs like ourselves into a report, elements of which are used by the States when they make recommendations to the State under review.

With the support of Sr. Cecilia Espenilla, Dominicans for Justice and Peace submitted a report on the issue of human trafficking in the Philippines. From the 51 submissions of the civil society, 16 submissions made reference directly or indirectly to the issue of human trafficking (including ours). Many reports addressed the question of slave labour, including child labour, and child sexual exploitation, practices that are closely linked to human trafficking.  In the OHCHR report summarising the NGOs’ submissions, direct reference was made to the information we provided regarding the lack of political will to fully implement the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act, which had also been hindered by corruption. The OHCHR report also referred to our recommendation for the Philippines to increase the budget for the shelters for victims of human trafficking.

Among the 257 recommendations made by the States to the Philippines to improve its human rights record, no less than 27 countries focused on the question of human trafficking, including child exploitation. Two of our Dominican recommendations were echoed in the recommendations of various States. The recommendation to take all necessary steps to investigate trafficking operations and prosecute traffickers was also raised by Botswana and the Holy See, and our recommendation to the Philippines to strengthen cooperation with other countries and to take action at the bilateral, regional and international level to better protect Filipinos was raised by Cuba, China, Indonesia and Sierra Leone in their recommendations.

In sum, our Dominican participation in the UPR of the Philippines reinforced the concern for the issue of human trafficking manifested by many NGOs and States. In the face of this global pressure, hopefully the Government of the Philippines will strengthen its resolve and efforts to counter the widespread human trafficking in the country.

(23 July 2017)