Joint oral statement to the Human Rights Council on the Philippines
8 October 2021

Joint oral statement to the Human Rights Council on the Philippines

Philippines

On 7 October, Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, the Law Society of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), and Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) delivered an oral statement on the Philippines during the General Debate. The statement was endorsed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) delivered during the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The statement reads as follows:

Madame President,

This is a joint statement. We deplore the ongoing pattern of murders and attacks against lawyers and human rights defenders in the Philippines.[1] Impunity for attacks against lawyers undermines the rule of law by depriving people of their right to legal representation to seek remedies for violations.

Since 2001 at least 197 members of the legal profession have been murdered. Killings of lawyers have escalated since President Duterte took office in July 2016. Since then there have been at least 58 prima facie work-related murders of jurists – lawyers, judges and prosecutors[2] – with only a handful of investigations leading to prosecutions. There have also been numerous murders and attacks against defenders.[3]

Despite two Council resolutions in 2019 and 2020, initiatives by the Philippines Supreme Court, and a UN joint programme agreed in July 2021,[4] extrajudicial killings in the Philippines continue. The Philippines government has expressed a refusal to cooperate[5]  with the recently authorized investigation by the International Criminal Court.[6] Vilification and “red tagging” of defenders continues.[7]

Impunity for extrajudicial killings must be stopped. We urge the Council to establish an adequately-resourced international investigative mechanism to collect and preserve evidence of extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations in the Philippines.

Thank you.

See the joint statement on UN WebTV at 3:00:05

References

[1]  Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Bar Association’s Institute for Human Rights (IBAHRI), Lawyer for Lawyers (L4L), and the Association of American Jurists (AAJ), together with the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), “Philippines, Statement to UN Human Rights Council on Independence of Judges and Lawyers,” Oral video statement to the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council, 28 June 2021, available at: https://www.lrwc.org/philippines-turkey-iran-statement-to-un-human-rights-council-on-independence-of-judges-and-lawyers-oral-video-statement/; Joint letter of 62 non-governmental organizations to UN Human Rights Council member and observer States, “Acceleration of extra-judicial killings of jurists in the Philippines: UN Human Rights Council should urgently launch an independent international investigative mechanism on human rights situation,” 28 August 2020, available at: https://www.lrwc.org/philippines-un-human-rights-council-should-urgently-launch-an-independent-international-investigative-mechanism-on-human-rights-situation-joint-letter/; Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the Asian Legal Resource Centre, Acceleration of extra-judicial killings of jurists in the Philippines, Joint Written Statement to the  44th session of the UN Human Rights Council, https://www.lrwc.org/un-human-rights-council-acceleration-of-extra-judicial-killings-of-jurists-in-the-philippines-written-joint-statement-to-the-44th-session-of-the-un-human-rights-council/;  Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Lawyers for Lawyers, and International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), and Asian Legal Resource Centre, Philippines: Extrajudicial killing of jurists as part of a pattern of widespread and systematic violations of human rights, Joint written statement to the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 9 September 2019, available at: https://www.lrwc.org/philippines-extrajudicial-killing-of-jurists-written-statement-to-the-hrc/.

[2]  According to the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in the Philippines, there have been 65 publicly known killings of members of the Philippine legal profession from July 1, 2016 to the present.  At least 58 of the murders appear to be prima facie related to the victims’ work in the legal profession.

[3] Cathrine Gonzalesm “CHR: 89 ‘human rights defenders’ killed from 2017 to 2019,” Inquirer, 21 August 2020, available at: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1325163/chr-89-human-rights-defenders-killed-from-2017-to-2019#ixzz785k7qSxe.

[4] Philippines, UN launch first-ever national joint programme for human rights following Human Rights Council resolution 45/33  https://philippines.un.org/index.php/en/137080-philippines-un-launch-first-ever-national-joint-programme-human-rights-following-human.

[5] Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales, “Philippines refuses to work with ICC ‘war on drugs’ probe,” Reuters, 16 Sepember 2021, available at: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-will-not-cooperate-with-icc-probe-war-drugs-spokesperson-2021-09-16/.

[6] Situation in the Philippines: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I authorises the opening of an investigation, International Criminal Court, 15 September, available at: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=PR1610

[7]  Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Press Briefing Notes on Philippines, OHCHR, 9 March 2021, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26865&LangID=E.

Meer nieuws uit Philippines

20 October 2021

Letter on the killings of Atty. Juan Macababad, Atty. Rex Fernandez and Atty. Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie

Philippines

In a letter to President Duterte, Lawyers for Lawyers expressed concern about the recent killings of Atty. Juan Macababad, Atty. Rex Fernandez and Atty. Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie and the further deteriorating situation of lawyers in the Philippines. Lawyers for Lawyers

Lees verder
23 June 2021

The Philippines: attacks against lawyers further escalating

Philippines

Together with 30 lawyers’ organizations, bar associations and human rights organisations, Lawyers for Lawyers signed a joint statement on the escalating attacks against lawyers in the Philippines. The statement was an initiative from Lawyers for Lawyers. Attacks against lawyers in

Lees verder
17 June 2021

Filipino lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen: “Human rights is a very dangerous field”

Philippines

Text: Jan van Vegchel and Benthe Priester “Never in history was being a Filipino human rights lawyer as dangerous as it is today”, says Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, “AK” for friends. “I come from a family of human rights activists,

Lees verder
16 March 2021

Red-tagged Philippine human rights lawyer stabbed in the head with screwdriver

Philippines

On the night of Wednesday 3 March 2021, Philippine human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen became a victim of a near-fatal stabbing. Guillen represents Philippine activists and human rights defenders in court and is the Assistant Vice President of the

Lees verder