Submission to UN Human Rights Committee – Philippines
13 januari 2020

Submission to UN Human Rights Committee – Philippines


In May 2019, the Philippines submitted its fifth periodic report on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). At its 128th session, the Human Rights Committee will adopt a List of Issues on the Philippines. Lawyers for Lawyers welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the List of Issues on the Philippines in preparation for its fifth periodic review by the Committee and has drafted a report concerning the position of lawyers in the Philippines.

In the report, we highlight that on basis of the ICCPR and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, lawyers in the Phillippines are hindered from properly exercising their profession. The report provides cases examples of extrajudicial killings of and attacks against lawyers and lawyers who have been subjected to the practice of  ‘red-tagging’.

The report identifies four issues as particularly worrying: the interference with the independence of the legal profession, the practice of labelling (or ‘red-tagging’) of lawyers and lawyers’ organizations, the surveillance of lawyers and lawyers’ groups, and the culture of impunity.

As a result, the professional rights and privileges of lawyers in the Philippines are violated systematically. This impairs their ability to provide effective legal representation and consequently severely undermines the proper functioning of the rule of law and the adequate protection of rights to which all persons are entitled, including the rights to effective remedy and fair trial.

Lawyers for Lawyers is recommending the Human Rights Committee to pose the following questions to the Philippines concerning the position of lawyers during the review:

  • Please provide information whether and if so how A.O. No. 35 of 22 October 2012 creating the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons has led to the prevention, investigation, or prosecution of extra-judicial killings of lawyers, including Attys Bato, Ramos and Trinidad.
  • Please provide information on what (other) measures the State party has taken to ensure that lawyers are able to carry out their professional functions safely and independently and are protected against killings, attacks, threats and identification with their clients or their clients causes.
  • Please respond to persistent reports of harassment, intimidation and pressure on lawyers representing clients in politically sensitive cases, including drugs and land reform cases, or cases related to national security and counterinsurgency, including (death) threats and labelling and red-tagging, such as in the case of lawyers Ramos, Trinidad, Dannug-Salucon and Pahilga.
  • Please provide information on the progress on the investigation into the extrajudicial killings of and attacks against lawyers, including concrete information on its outcome, namely, the prosecutions initiated and the ensuing convictions, the sentences imposed on the perpetrators and the compensation awarded to the victims or their families.

Click here to access the report.

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