News : Case study

Commission puts human rights at centre of elections

Graphic: CHR and COMMELEC sign the agreement

In the lead up to the 2016 elections, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights formed strategic partnerships to monitor human rights violations.

In the lead up to the 9 May 2016 general elections in the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) provided its support to a non-partisan, civil society-led campaign – Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan (BKH) – to monitor election-related human rights violations.

The goals of the campaign were to:

  • Embed a human rights framework in the 2016 elections and beyond
  • Develop a matrix to allow uniform reporting of human rights violations
  • Provide evidence-based data to ensure access to justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations.

To support the project and develop the skills of volunteer monitors, the Commission conducted a "Workshop on human rights concepts and principles in the context of genuine elections" for representatives from BKH partner organisations.


Volunteer monitors at the CHR's training workshop

In addition, the CHR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on 4 April to monitor election-related human rights violations during the 2016 election period.

The agreement allows the CHR to directly file cases involving grave violations before COMELEC as a complainant, and the CHR is not precluded from filing appropriate cases it investigates under the MOU before Philippine prosecutorial services and appropriate courts, as well as before relevant international tribunals and committee.

Findings

Based on the interviews conducted by BKH volunteers, the most commonly violated human rights during this election period included:

  • Right and opportunity to vote
  • Right to security of person
  • Freedom of opinion and expression
  • Right and opportunity to be elected/to participate in public affairs
  • Right to fair and public hearing/right to an effective remedy
  • Transparency and access to information
  • Freedom of assembly and movement
  • Freedom from discrimination and equality before the law.

Graphic: Members of the Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan campaign


In relation to election-related violence, the CHR gathered reports of scores of incidents in the months leading up to the election period. There were 72 cases verified by the CHR that involved killings, strafing, gun poking, demolition and harassment. The CHR is currently investigating an additional 62 cases of killings and harassment.

The CHR will inquire further into these cases to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for proven offenses.

Around 30 to 40 days after the elections, the Commission will release its National Human Rights Situation Report on the Electoral Process during the last press conference of the Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan.

The report will also serve as the recommendation of the CHR to COMELEC and other stakeholders on how to improve the monitoring mechanism of election-related human rights violations.

Date: 23 May 2016

Source: Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines


Image credits

  1. CHR and COMMELEC sign the agreement - Philippines Commission on Human Rights
  2. Volunteer monitors at the CHR's training workshop - Philippines Commission on Human Rights
  3. Members of the Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan campaign - Philippines Commission on Human Rights