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Marawi Evacuees, Know Your Rights

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID)
as the Comprehensive Legal Instrument

What are the Rights of the IDPs

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Who are the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)?

"Internally displaced persons are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular, as a result of, or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state borders."

* Crafted by a team of international experts working for the UN
* Submitted to the UNCHR on its 54th session in 1998
* The most comprehensive legal protection for the Internally Displaced Persons
* Intended to serve as an international standard guide to governments as well as international humanitarian and development agencies in providing assistance and protection to IDPs.
Vulnerable Groups
* Children (esp. unaccompanied)
* Expectant mothers
* Mothers with young children
* Female head of households
* Persons with disabilities
* Elderly.

Relevant Laws for the IDPs
* RA 7279
* RA 9851
* RA 10121
* RA 10821.

Legal Basis of the Rights of the IDPs
1. 1987 Constitution
2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
4. International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
5. Convention on the Rights of the Child
6. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
7. Protocol II or Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-international Armed Conflict
8. Convention Against Torture

I. Prohibition Against Arbitrary Displacement
a. Protection against arbitrary displacement is a fundamental human rights.
b. Displacement is prohibited, no matter what the circumstance, when it seeks to alter ethnic, religious, or racial compsition of particular areas.
c. Protection against arbitrary displacement exists in times of war. As a general rule, parties in conflict are prohibited from forcing civilians to move.
d. Displacement cause by large-scale development projects can be considered arbitrary if they cannot be justified by overriding public interest.
e. In no case shall displacement can be carried out in a manner that violates the rights to life, dignity and security of those affected.
f. If displacement is justified and must really occur, the affected communities must be consulted and properly compensated.
g. Displacement should be temporary. It should not last longer than required by the compelling circumstances that legitimizes movements. Once civilians can return safely and in dignity, displacement should end.
h. States are also under a particular obligation to protect against the displacement of indigenous peoples, minorities and other groups with a special dependency on and attachment to their lands.

II. Protection During Displacement
a. During displacement, internally displaced persons shall be protected from genocide, murder, summary of arbitrary executions and enforced disappearances.
b. Attacks or other acts of violence against those who do not or no longer participate in hostilities are prohibited in all circumstances. They shall be protected against rape, mutilation, torture, slavery and acts of violence intended to spread terror.
c. They shall not be interned in or confined to camp, unless absolutely necessary, nor be subject to discriminatory arrest and detention or to be taken hostage. Displaced children shall not be recruited to take part in hostilities.
d. Internally displaced persons have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his or her residence, including the right to leave their country and seek asylum abroad. They have the right to know the fate and whereabouts of missing relatives.
e. Competent authorities shall provide them with and ensure safe access to essential food and water, basic shelter, clothing and medical services.
f. They have the right to recognition as a person before the law. Their property and possessions shall in all circumstances be protected, including those they left behind. They shall not be discriminated against in the enjoyment of their basic freedoms and their right to vote and to participate in governmental and public affairs. They have the right to education.

III. Humanitarian Assistance
a. All humanitarian assistance shall be carried out n accordance with the principles of humanity and impartiality and without discrimination. They shall not be diverted for political or military reasons.
b. The primary duty and responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs lies with the national authorities. International humanitarian organizations and other appropriate actors have the right to offer their services in support of the internally displaced.

III. Return, Resettlement and Reintegration
a. Competent authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to establish conditions, as well as provide the means, for the voluntary return or resettlement of IDPs.
b. Competent authorities have the duty and responsibility to assist them to recover their property and possessions which they left behind or were dispossessed of upon their displacement.
c. IDPs have he right to be protected against forcible return to or resettlement in any place where their life, safety, liberty, and/or health would be at risk.

(Compiled by Datu Meno D. Manabilang with story from Balay)
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