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Basilan HR Monitors undergo training to promote, protect human rights

ISABELA CITY, Basilan, June 14 (PIA) – A total of 40 Human Rights Monitors in Basilan were trained to effectively promote and protect human rights in the province.

The Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission-Basilan Provincial Office conducted a one-day training dubbed "Basilan Human Rights Monitors Conference" in Isabela City on June 9, 2022 as part of its efforts to promote and protect human rights in the region and more specifically in the island province of Basilan. This event is anchored on the participatory approach to deterring the prevalence of human rights violations (HRVs) which has haunted the province ever since the decades-long conflict in the islands.

The activity was attended by volunteers’ human rights monitors from different municipalities including the island municipalities of Tabuan-Lasa and Hadji Muhtamad. This activity helps them to build their skills and learn about human rights laws, the BHRC and its roles and responsibilities and the state of human rights in the province.

In his message, Atty. Alman-Najar L. Namla, BHRC Provincial Director expressed gratitude to the participants as he inspired them to efficiently perform their roles and responsibilities.

"We see so much potential in working with the grass-roots monitors, community leaders because you are the ones who are actually witnessing the HRVs in your vicinities. Our collaboration and coordination can strengthen not just the protection mandate of the Commission, but also its promotion mandate," Atty. Alman expressed.

He also added that the activity is just the first step of the Commission in establishing a network that will be composed of members of the community, such as civil society organizations (CSOs), non-government organizations (NGOs) and international non-government organizations (INGOs) including the Local Government Units (LGUs). He said that the network will then be a place to protect and promote human rights and a safe place to talk about problems with human rights in the province.

Furthermore, Investigator Umma Omar R. Edding presented the salient features of the BHRC as provided in the Bangsamoro Autonomy Act No. 4 or the Bangsamoro Human Rights Act of 2019. He reiterated that the BHRC as the human rights institution of the region has the main mandate to protect and promote human rights in the Bangsamoro.

The participants also engaged in a fruitful discussion on Basic Human Rights, which tackled the reporting mechanism for human rights cases.

Moreover, Ms. Jocelyn Zabala who is a prominent municipal leader and an active CSO member in the province served as main resource speaker focusing on Human Rights Monitoring and Reporting for community members.

Ms. Zabala who has a shared commitment to human rights in the province believes that grass-roots monitoring play a huge role in protecting the human rights of the people. She also gave a short history of what Basilan used to be in terms of peace and order and the consequent human rights violations it caused. She also emphasized that documentation (of human rights cases) is about collecting stories, establishing truths and sounding alarms.

"The success of any investigation into human rights cases can depend on one’s ability to access those stories and give meaning to them, for example through showing patterns of abuse. Since human rights violations are often traumatic experiences and often happen to people who are severely marginalized and oppressed, a significant degree of empathy and understanding of the circumstances surrounding the incident is required as much as understanding the incident itself," she opined.

Ms. Zabala added that several years of experience in human rights practice in the province have shown that collaboration and coordination with community members at the grass-roots level strengthens information-dissemination on the existence of human rights violations and their subsequent investigation.

Meanwhile, most of the participants shared their unique experience during the reflection workshop of Atty. Namla, in relation to human rights that includes discrimination, brutality by state and non-state actors, martial law, and the Abu Sayyaf, all surfaced.

Atty. Namla reiterated at the end of the activity that the work of Human Rights Monitors as grass-roots informers is crucial in human rights protection considering that they are in areas where they can hear and see things that are not within the immediate attention of the BHRC. (RVC/NDR/PIA9-Basilan with reports from Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission-Basilan)

About the Author

Nilda Delos Reyes

Information Officer I

Region 9

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