The institutional, operational, and technical capacity of the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission is strengthened, including its partnerships with local CSOs

The institutional, operational, and technical capacity of the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission is strengthened, including its partnerships with local CSOs

The struggle of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination has been long and fraught with conflict. But with the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), peace and development seem to be finally within their reach.

The GOJUST Human Rights Projects supports the organizational strengthening of the Bangsamoro Regional Human Rights Commission (BHRC), created alongside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The Project, in fact, through the predecessor of the BHRC – the Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) – had been part of lobbying efforts to include strong language on human rights in the draft BOL. The Project had also supported the constitution of the BHRC, likewise through RHRC, via a draft bill that outlined the key mandates of BHRC. This bill built on the experiences and the legal framework of the RHRC.  The BHRC law was passed by the Bangsamoro Parliament on 20 December 2019, providing a crucial result for the Project. 

In a sense, the RHRC became the first agency institutionalized in the BARMM as the BHRC law provided that RHRC would remain until the BHRC was operational.

One of the core activities of Outcome 2 was providing legal assistance to more than 24,000 residents affected by the Marawi Siege.

In 2017, Marawi City, in Lanao del Sur, was seized violently by the Maute group of Islamist fighters. The Philippine government mobilized the armed forces, and a bloody attack ensued, leaving hundreds dead, thousands dispossessed, and a once thriving city in ruins. 

Following the attack and subsequent declaration of Martial Law, the Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC), together with partner CSOs, provided legal assistance to victims of the siege, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Another core activity of the Project is providing training support to the RHRC in the design and implementation of competency-based investigation training (i.e. Basic, Intermediate, and Advance), as well as in Trial Advocacy and Human Rights-Based Approach. 

The Project also supports strengthening the partnership between BHRC and CSOs. One of the key activities under this is the Bangsamoro Human Rights Network Summit, where a core group committed to adopting guidelines in monitoring and reporting human rights violations. The monitoring guidelines takes into consideration the role of the BHRN CSOs in providing human rights protection and promotion assistance in the period of transition from the RHRC to the BHRC, and the BARMM transition, in general. 

The operations of the Human Rights Monitoring Centers (HRMCs) in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi to provide human rights services to the island group in the Sulu archipelago are also being backed by the Project. As these areas are conflict zones, the support for HRMCs is critical. Aside from monitoring human rights violations (HRVs), the HRMCs help spread human rights awareness and provide legal assistance to victims.  The HRMCs are expected to be institutionalized by transforming them into permanent provincial offices in the future structure of the BHRC.