Manila, Philippines – There has been a “dramatic” rise in the number of human rights activists in recent years—and the Philippines has one of the highest number of cases, a report revealed.
In a statement on Tuesday, human rights groups Front Line Defenders and HRD Memorial said in their new joint report “Stop the Killings” that more than 1,000 targeted killings of human rights defenders were recorded since 2014.
The report analyzed attacks on activists in the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. These six countries were found to collectively account for more than 80 percent of all documented murders of human rights defenders, it showed.
“For decades, the governments of Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines have been using the same tired and disingenuous excuses to justify their inaction—terrorism, organised crime, drug gangs,” said Jim Loughran, head of the HRD Memorial Project at Front Line Defenders.
“They peddle the myth that with increased arms they will be able to fix the situation. This simplistic and dangerous analysis ignores corruption as the root cause of violence,” he added.
Data from the report showed that 474 human rights defenders were killed during the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 139 during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.
During the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, there have been 60 reported killings as of 2017.
“Extrajudicial executions remain the gravest threat facing HRDs in the Philippines where HRDs have long been targeted,” the statement read.
“This is continuing into the present. In its 2017 Annual Report , Front Line Defenders reported the killing of 60 HRDs in the Philippines, making it the country with the highest number of killings of HRDs outside of the Americas and nearly doubling the figure from the previous year,” it added.
Andrew Anderson, Front Line Defenders executive director, said that corrupt dictators and populist authoritarians have been emboldened to attack even the very idea of universal human rights.
“In all of the countries featured in this report there has been extensive funding, training and the provision of weaponry, surveillance equipment and technical support to the police, intelligence and military forces implicated in the killing of HRDs,” he said.
“Corrupt dictators and populist authoritarians have been emboldened to attack not just HRDs but the very idea of universal human rights,” he added.