Human Rights Committee to consider case of forced eviction in The Philippines
The Human Rights Committee officially registered the case of Garsain et al. v. The Philippines. The case challenges the Government of the Philippines for the brutal forced eviction of the residents of Corazon de Jesus, a community in San Juan City, Metro Manila. On January 11, 2012, one hundred twenty one (121) residents of Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City, Metro Manila Philippines suffered a brutal forced eviction and saw their homes demolished. Joint forces of Philippine National Police, Special Weapons and Tactics and demolition team bombarded the residents with water canons, used a bulldozer to enter the community, and fired guns and threw teargas toward the residents and community. Policemen were armed with M14, M16 and 45 caliber firearms.
Since access to justice was denied in The Philippines, the complaint is asking the Human Rights Committee to hold the Government accountable to its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Complaint was brought by the residents with the assistance of Defend Job Philippines, a human rights organization based in the Philippines; the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an international human rights NGO; and the International Human Rights Clinic at the New England University School of Law in the U.S.
According to Melona Repunte Daclan of Defend Job Philippines, “The Corazon de Jesus community has resorted to international human rights law to seek accountability for these egregious human rights violations because the courts in the Philippines have refused to enforce the human rights laws that are to protect the citizens of the Philippines.”
Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, added that “international scrutiny is necessary to bring to an end the impunity with which forced evictions are carried out in the Philippines, and we hope this case not only provides accountability and remedies to those bringing the claim, but puts an end to forced evictions in the Philippines altogether.”
Aside from the Corazon de Jesus residents, Glenda Leonor, mother of Arnel Leonor, a young man killed during a demolition in Silverio Compound is also a complainant to the submission along with Mary Homo, wife of Antonio Homo who was killed in the midst of the struggle of their community in Navotas against forced eviction and home demolitions. Roy Velez and Amelita Bravante, trade union leaders and advocates of urban poor rights and currently facing fabricated criminal charges are also complainants.
Daclan stressed that demolition and forced eviction is a policy of the Philippine Government represented by the current administration of Benigno Aquino III to give way to mega development projects and other business projects. Indeed, Defend Job Philippines and Demolition Watch have documented more than 73,000 families who were forcibly evicted and had their homes demolished as of February 2014.
The Human Rights Committee is an impartial, independent human rights mechanism sitting in Geneva, Switzerland and is mandated with ensuring compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Philippines became a party to the Covenant in 1986 and three years later voluntarily accepted the Individual Complaint mechanism whereby victims of human rights violations can seek to hold States accountable to their human rights obligations and seek remedies when those obligations are violated.
“We are hopeful that through this international human rights mechanism, the Philippine Government shall be held accountable, demolition of communities be stopped and that the rights of the people be truly protected and promoted.” Daclan ended.
The complainants’ submission can be seen HERE.