Human rights defenders and UN Special Rapporteur on Philippine terrorist ‘hit list’

April 4, 2018

Hivos and ARTICLE 19 are alarmed at the news that the Philippine government has declared 600 people to be ‘communist terrorists’.

The list of names includes the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the rights of indigenous peoples, and human rights defenders including indigenous leaders from the Cordillera Region who are a part of the network of Hivos’ partner Bantay Kita. This action is an unacceptable infringement of their human rights, and we fear it will put their security at risk and adversely impact their ability to carry out their work.

UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz responded in a letter to the Financial Times to her name being on the terrorist ‘hit-list’, saying “You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard”.

The Philippine government’s action exemplifies the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and the grave threats facing civil society organisations there at this time. In the context of the widespread violence in the Philippines, including military operations and extrajudicial killings, the publication of such a list gravely endangers the lives of indigenous human rights defenders, their families and colleagues.

Call to Action

We and our partner ARTICLE 19 have therefore issued a call to action in which we urge the Philippine government to comply with its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We ask the government to:

  • immediately rescind the list of alleged terrorists;
  • ensure the physical safety of indigenous peoples’ leaders and human rights defenders; and
  • abide by State obligations to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including access to justice, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

What can you do?

You can help by signing the petition on