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Marcos forms human rights coordination body

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has created a body on human rights coordination to enhance mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights, a move viewed by advocates as a "desperate attempt to window-dress" the situation in the country. 

The Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination, a body under the Presidential Human Rights Committee, is tasked to sustain the initiatives of the United Nations Joint Program (UNJP) on human rights in the areas of law enforcement, criminal justice and policy-making. 

The three-year UNJP was developed to implement the UN Human Rights Council's (HRC) October 2020 resolution on capacity-building and technical cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.

"It is imperative to sustain and enhance the accomplishments under UNJP, which is set to expire on July 21, 2024 through institutionalization of a robust multi-stakeholder process for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines," according to Administrative Order 22, signed by Executive Secretary Luis Bersamin on May 8.

The special committee is chaired by the executive secretary and co-chaired by the justice secretary. The chiefs of foreign affairs and interior and local government serve as members. 

The special body is tasked to strengthen human rights investigation and accountability, data-gathering on alleged human rights violations by law enforcement agencies, civic space and engagement with the private sector, national mechanisms for implementation, reporting and follow up, and human rights-based approaches on drug control and counter-terrorism. 

The committee is also ordered to complement and rationalize the efforts of concerned government agencies, and facilitate access to redress mechanisms by victims of human rights violations. 

It also seeks to ensure effective implementation of policies and programs aimed at upholding human rights of persons deprived of liberty, particularly in guaranteeing that no one is subjected to torture and other cruel or inhumane treatment or punishment. 

Funding for the initial implementation of the order will be sourced from the current budgetary