AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS PRACTICAL HUMAN RIGHTS PROMOTION IN THE PHILIPPINES
Australia will provide new funding of Php7 million (approx A$175,000) to various projects that will help to promote and address human rights issues in the Philippines.
“Australia is a long-standing partner to government agencies and civil society groups in the Philippines actively promoting and protecting human rights,” said Ambassador Rod Smith. “We believe that strong and effective institutions, respect for human rights and a legal system that enjoys the people's trust are all fundamental to achieving this goal.”
“The murder of civilians and journalists in Maguindanao late last year has heightened the focus on human rights issues in the Philippines. Australia will support initiatives that further promote and rebuild human rights awareness and protection in the country.”
Through the Human Rights Small Grants Scheme, Australian assistance will help establish paralegal committees that will monitor human rights violations resulting from armed conflicts through the project ‘Enhancing Human Rights Advocacy in Lanao through Legal and Paralegal Support Program’, to be implemented by the Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw Inc (BALAOD Mindanaw) in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.
These committees will provide human rights education and paralegal training that will help people living in conflict-affected communities to understand their basic rights. The training will also enhance the people’s capacity to conduct investigation and document human rights violations which can be used as basis in addressing these cases using local, national and international standards.
Australia is also providing support to various projects through the Karapatan sa Malikhaing Paraan (KaSaMa), a multi-donor initiative that provides funding to civil society organisations to implement innovative human rights projects. Among the projects Australia will support are: establishing a community-based human rights watch in Maguindanao and North Cotabato; placement of paralegal coordinators in prisons; training women and adolescent volunteers on providing assistance in cases of violation against women; and an exhibition of award-winning films that deal with human rights issues.
“Over the years we have assisted with training workshops for legal practitioners on remedies to address extra-judicial killings and disappearances, supported human rights advocacy, and funded NGOs to deliver better outcomes for children living in poverty. Despite the inroads being made each year, there is still more to be done,” Ambassador Smith said.
Australia is committed to promoting and protecting human rights by supporting grass roots activities for indigenous human rights groups and enhancing the capacity of national human rights bodies.
Australia was one of 47 original signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has been a leading proponent of the Declaration's consistent and comprehensive implementation during the past 60 years.