The Philippines: Immediately Investigate and Remedy Arrest and Detention of Senator de Lima | Letter

March 29, 2017

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally through advocacy, legal research and education. LRWC also campaigns for lawyers and other human rights defenders in danger because of their advocacy. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LRWC joins the International Commission of Jurists, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Amnesty International, Filipino human rights defenders, environmental advocates, people’s organizations, and international rights groups in denouncing the arrest and ongoing detention of Senator Leila De Lima.

Senator De Lima has been a vocal and high-profile critic of your government’s “war on drugs” which has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations, of mostly poor, defenceless victims. The arrest and ongoing detention of Senator De Lima appears to be a blatant attempt by the Philippine government to silence criticism of the “war on drugs” and divert attention away from serious human rights violations that continue to result.


On 23 February, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court in Metro Manila issued a warrant for the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima. De Lima faces three criminal charges under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act which penalises the “sale, trading, administration, delivery, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs.” The charges are based, in part, on accusations by inmates of New Bilibid Prison. However, employees of both the Bureau of Corrections and the Philippine National Police have stated that Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre authorized the provision of material benefits to the inmates – including televisions, cell phones, internet access and air conditioning units – after they provided testimony against de Lima.

If found guilty, de Lima faces a sentence of 12 years to life in prison. De Lima denies all the charges against her, and has maintained that she is a victim of political persecution.



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