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Supreme Court Ruling on Red-Tagging: A Pivotal Victory for Human Rights

Statement
May 8, 2024

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-Canada (ICHRP Canada) welcomes the Supreme Court decision today defining red-tagging as a threat to individual and organizational security. It marks a significant triumph for the human rights movement. This ruling comes in the wake of the ICHRP Canada General Assembly held last weekend in Montreal, where the pressing issue of red-tagging was extensively discussed and identified as a major concern.

The Supreme Court ruling underscored the urgency of addressing and condemning the practice of red-tagging, which has been frequently employed by both state and non-state agents to label and harass perceived enemies of the state as communists or terrorists. 

The ICHRP Canada conference highlighted the ongoing dangers posed by red-tagging, as well as its far-reaching implications for human rights and civil liberties. This ruling reinforces the assembly’s commitment to promoting and safeguarding human rights in the Philippines and strengthening solidarity across communities, particularly since the practice of red-tagging is not confined to the Philippines. Last year, there were incidents of red-tagging from within Canada against Atty. Neri Colmenares, a human rights lawyer and former Philippine congressman, during his cross-Canada speaking tour last October 2023; against Canada-based grassroots organizations like Anakbayan Scarborough; as well as against ICHRP Canada and our former Chairperson, Rev. Dr. Patricia Lisson.

Notably, the high court’s decision serves as a stern warning to those who falsely accuse and vilify activists, as they could face imprisonment if they continue their wrongful actions. This ruling represents a pivotal step in the ongoing struggle to protect human rights defenders and activists from malicious and unfounded allegations. Neri Colmenares, one of the speakers at the ICHRP General Assembly said that, “The SC decision that red tagging constitutes a threat to another person’s life and security is a major legal victory and affirms our long assertion that red-tagging must be banned”. He also declared that “red-taggers must be warned that we will file charges against them under our criminal and civil laws.”

By addressing the pernicious practice of red-tagging, this Supreme Court ruling aligns with the ICHRP Canada’s efforts to foster a more just and equitable society, where human rights are upheld and respected. It is a significant victory that will resonate throughout communities of human rights defenders and beyond.

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Photo credit: Jire Carreon