Syria Not a Human Rights Issue for the Philippines?

As the photo indicates, the Philippines was the only member of the UN Human Rights Council to be absent during a vote on Friday, June 1, in Geneva condemning the grave rights abuses in Syria and requesting the Commission of Inquiry to urgently conduct a “comprehensive, independent, and unfettered special inquiry” into the El-Houleh killings and to attempt to publicly identify those responsible. The resolution passed with 41 countries voting yes, 3 no, 2 abstentions — and 1 absent.

“Apparently the Philippine delegation had better things to do during the crucial Human Rights Council vote on Syria,” said Julie de Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch. “One has to wonder why the Philippines became a Human Rights Council member in the first place.”

The Commission of Inquiry has been tasked to look into the killings on May 25 in El-Houleh, Syria, in which 108 people, including 49 children and 34 women, were killed by artillery and tank fire from Syrian forces. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has said the attacks “may amount to crimes against humanity and other international crimes.”

Photo by Julie de Rivero / © 2012 Human Rights Watch