Independent international delegation Concludes fact finding mission on attacks on Philippine lawyers, prosecutors, & judges
17 juni 2024

Independent international delegation Concludes fact finding mission on attacks on Philippine lawyers, prosecutors, & judges


Manila, 13 June 2024 – Today a 12-member independent international delegation known as the “Caravana Filipina” concluded its ten-day mission studying the scores of attacks on Philippine lawyers, prosecutors, and judges since 2016. The members of the delegation represent 10 lawyers’ and human rights organisations from around the globe. The members of the delegation each brought their diverse perspective and experience in promoting the independence, safety, and security of the legal profession in countries all around the world.

Over the past ten days, members of the Caravana have visited Metro Manila, Cordillera, Iloilo, and Cebu, gathering testimonies from Lúzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Caravana’s aim is to strengthen protections for Philippine judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and other legal professionals

who, by performing their professional duties, have faced persecution, including extrajudicial killings, physical attacks and red tagging. By enhancing such protections, the Caravana seeks to expand access to justice for legal professionals who have suffered violations of their rights, as well as for all people of the Philippines.

International law recognises the unique role that legal professionals play in any society. As guardians of justice for all, international law accords them special protections. For example, the United Nations (U.N.) Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers provide that “[l]awyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.” In other words, clients’ positions and causes are not to be attributed to their counsel. The Basic Principles also require governments to “ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.” In addition, “[w]here the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions,” the Principles provide that lawyers “shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.” Other U.N. Principles and Guidelines provide similar protections for judges and prosecutors. The Philippines is also a party to a number of international human rights treaties that include protections for legal professionals. The national law of the Philippines does the same.

In its travels, the delegation has observed an alarming pattern of violations of these legal protections to which Philippine legal professionals are entitled. The delegation has documented first-hand accounts of judges and lawyers who have suffered attacks since 2016 to the present day, ranging from harassment, intimidation, surveillance, threats, and red-tagging, to physical assault, arbitrary detention and prosecution, and extrajudicial killings – in other words, assassinations. In addition, the delegation has documented the accounts of victims’ family members and legal representatives, and has met with representatives of a wide range of Philippine organisations and institutions which have an interest in the independence and the safety and security of the country’s legal professionals.

The members of the Caravana have made some preliminary findings, classified under four headings: the unprecedented scale of the attacks on legal professionals; the culture of impunity & climate of fear; red-tagging; and the repression of civil society and freedom of speech.

Find the full statement here.

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