In May 2017, Dominicans for Justice and Peace contributed to the review of the Philippines in the process of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations. This UN mechanism, initiated 8 years ago by the Human Rights Council, assesses the human rights practice of each Member State of the UN every four and a half years. This review process is a unique opportunity for Dominicans at the local level to share their views on the human rights situation in their country and to raise concerns in an international forum. Before the review, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) compiles the information produced by NGOs like ourselves into a report, elements of which are used by the States when they make recommendations to the State under review.
Among the 257 recommendations made by the States to the Philippines to improve its human rights record, no less than 27 countries focused on the question of human trafficking, including child exploitation. Two of our Dominican recommendations were echoed in the recommendations of various States. The recommendation to take all necessary steps to investigate trafficking operations and prosecute traffickers was also raised by Botswana and the Holy See, and our recommendation to the Philippines to strengthen cooperation with other countries and to take action at the bilateral, regional and international level to better protect Filipinos was raised by Cuba, China, Indonesia and Sierra Leone in their recommendations.
In sum, our Dominican participation in the UPR of the Philippines reinforced the concern for the issue of human trafficking manifested by many NGOs and States. In the face of this global pressure, hopefully the Government of the Philippines will strengthen its resolve and efforts to counter the widespread human trafficking in the country.