Putting victims at the heart of remedies to human rights violations

Families of victims of human rights violations gather at a family camp to help them process their traumatic experiences.

 

A persistent theme in the stories of survivors of victims of human rights violations (HRVs) is the postponement of grief.

 

An overwhelming percentage of victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) are poor male breadwinners. Women thus have pick up the pieces of shattered lives. HRVs often bury families in deeper poverty, which is the primary impetus for many of small-time drug dealings in the first place.

 

Quick deaths give birth to lives of even more want. In the mind of a widow, the death of a husband is only the first, and sometimes the least, of many other problems that have broken her life open.

 

The GOJUST Human Rights Project has supported the creation of human rights hubs that precisely help surviving families of slain victims sustain themselves, in body as well as in spirit.  These human rights hubs provide an array of human rights services for the surviving families of victims and for victims themselves of HRVs.

 

Networks of CSO partners have come together to establish hubs that support the needs of victims – some hubs serve as sanctuaries and shelters, putting a roof over the heads of families who’ve lost loved ones to EJKs. Other hubs provide welfare and livelihood opportunities, enabling individuals to stand on their own feet. Still others provide legal assistance, dispensing legal advice and conducting rights awareness or measures to address health and wellness during critical times.

 

The hubs also provide psycho-social services, hosting counseling sessions as well as conversations between survivors. In these hubs, they are able to take a breath or shed a tear; to name the wounds that stalk their waking lives. These psycho-social services complement the women’s empowerment program of these hubs, to transform helplessness into agency.

 

One example of an activity out of these hubs is a family camp where surviving families of EJKs were given a space to share their experiences and grief. In 2019, six families gathered in Cavite for an activity organized by the St. Scholastica’s Institute of the Women’s Studies Foundation. Although the main participants were widows, mothers, and grandmothers of EJK victims, their children and grandchildren came with them. Volunteer psychologists, sociologists, social workers, and other therapy experts facilitated workshops. These workshops employed creative methods such as arts, games, and storytelling to allow the participants to express themselves freely.

 

“Matagal na akong hindi nakalaro nang ganito,” one of the children who took part in the camp said. Children played board games with the volunteer facilitators from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).

A family camp in Cavite, in 2019.

These hubs also assist in the victim support and referral mechanism that facilitates the processing of remedies to victims of HRVs.


18 of such hubs have been set up in various places across the country, in partnership with eight civil society partners. //


This document was produced with the assistance of the European Union (EU) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) through the GOJUST Human Rights Project. The views reflected herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union or the AECID.

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