Tag Archives: International Association of People’s Lawyers

The Philippines: Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee

03/10/22

In its upcoming 136th session, the Human Rights Committee will review the fifth state report submitted by the Philippines and will adopt concluding observations that will assist the Philippines in the implementation of the ICCPR. Lawyers for Lawyers welcomed the opportunity to file a submission to inform the Human Rights Committee about the situation of lawyers in the Philippines.

In this submission, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) reveals that the Philippines has failed to comply with its international human rights commitments to guarantee effective access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession as set out in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and subsequently, has failed to comply with article 14 of the ICCPR. The submission contains case examples from lawyers who have been persecuted, harassed and murdered due to their profession as a lawyer.

The submission addresses three key areas of concern: The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the additional practice of red-tagging and the extrajudicial killings of lawyers. The Anti-Terrorism Act is misused by the Government to unlawfully label lawyers and human rights defenders as terrorists. The practice of red-tagging is a continuous and serious threat to the civil society since individuals or organizations are being publicly labelled as ‘communists’, ‘leftists’ and thus ‘enemies of the state’. The practice of red-tagging has proven to be a grave threat to civil society and freedom of expression. Furthermore, extrajudicial killings of lawyers due to their profession and the violence against them continues to increase. These cases are often not investigated, which creates a culture of impunity.

Given the vital role of lawyers in the protection of the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights, L4L recommends the Committee to address the position of lawyers when reviewing the State Party’s implementation of the ICCPR. More specifically, L4L demands the Committee to include the following recommendations in its review to the Philippines:

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The Philippines/USA: New York City Bar Association condemns attack on Cebu lawyer

24/09/22

The group urges the new government ‘to take all measures necessary to ensure that legal professionals are able to fulfill their professional obligations safely and without impediment’

The New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) has condemned the attempted assassination of Cebu Port Authority lawyer Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales.

“The New York City Bar Association joins the international community in condemning the attempted assassination of Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales and fears that it may be a harbinger of things to come,” the NYCBA said in a statement.

“As the CHR’s reference to ‘the continuing violence against legal professionals’ indicates, the recent attempt on the life of Quiñanola-Gonzales is by no means an isolated instance,” it added, noting the number of killings of members of the legal profession in the country during the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.

Gonzales and her son, Keith Gonzales, were driving near Hernan Cortes Street in Barangay Tipolo when they were ambushed by motorcycle-riding men.

Mandaue City police have identified the gunman behind the attack as 42-year-old swimming instructor Richard Basalo Delibo.

Lieutenant Colonel Franco Rudolf Oriol, deputy city director for operations of the Mandaue City Police Office, said they filed a complaint for two counts of frustrated murder against Delibo with the City Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, September 16.

[…]

https://www.nycbar.org/media-listing/media/detail/attempted-assassination-of-philippine-lawyer-karen-quinanola-gonzales

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/topstories/nation/844042/ibp-calls-for-protection-of-lawyer-son-after-cebu-attack/story/

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/03/22/nupl-urges-swift-probe-on-lawyers-ambush-in-cebu

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/09/12/philippines-strong-un-rights-council-action-needed

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/philippines-un-human-rights-report-looks-new-administration-progress

The Philippines: Cebu Port Authority lawyer, son ambushed in Mandaue

02/09/22

A lawyer at the Cebu Port Authority and her son were rushed to a hospital after they were ambushed by unidentified gunmen Thursday evening in Mandaue City.

According to the Mandaue City Police Office, Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales was driving with her 19-year-old son along Hernan Cortes Avenue in Barangay Banilad when the incident happened.

Authorities said the suspects were riding in tandem.

Investigators are establishing the motive of the ambush.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Friday condemned the crime committed against the lawyer on the first day of the rule of law month.

“We call for the swift delivery of justice against all those who do harm and destroy the common good,” the IBP said in a statement.

“We enjoin everyone to work together with us to protect the rights of every person and secure the safety of our community,” it also said. “When we allow, by our inaction or apathy, for violence to flourish, we dim the future of our country.”

The IBP added that its Cebu City chapter will give a reward of ₱50,000 to anyone who can give information leading to the capture of the suspects and all those who may have a hand in the crime.

https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/9/2/Cebu-Port-Authority-lawyer-ambush-Mandaue.html

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/02/22/lawyer-son-ambushed-in-mandaue

The Philippines: Lawyer endured years of vilification long before terror financing case

18/09/22

Lawyer Czarina Golda Musni comes from a prominent family of human rights lawyers in Cagayan de Oro, and was involved in some of the projects of missionaries for rural communities in Mindanao

The lawyer accused of providing aid to the New People’s Army (NPA) along with 15 nuns and staff of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) has long been subjected to red-tagging, threats, and a smear campaign.

Her family’s home in Cagayan de Oro was even shot at by a still unidentified person three years ago.

The lawyer, Czarina Golda “Dingkay” Musni, comes from a prominent family of human rights lawyers in Cagayan de Oro, and was involved in some of the projects of the missionaries for rural communities in Mindanao.

Musni’s mother Beverly is a retired arbiter of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) while her father Oscar once served as a provincial board member in Misamis Oriental, and established a law firm in Cagayan de Oro.

Oscar was active in the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), and was a political detainee during the Martial Law years. 

Musni’s sister, Beverly Ann, is also a lawyer and works in a court in Bukidnon. Like the rest of the family, she had been red-tagged numerous times.

In 2019, Musni’s mother led a group in calling on the Cagayan de Oro city council to pass an ordinance against red-tagging in the city as a result of the proliferation of posters and flyers that linked lawyers, priests, nuns, journalists, and activists to the NPA. No such measure was ever passed.

[…]

https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2022/08/13/2202285/brave-deep-thinking-human-rights-lawyer

https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/filipino-human-rights-lawyer-angelo-guillen-honored-baldwin-medal-liberty

https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/8/9/filipino-lawyer-angelo-guillen-human-rights-award.html

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2022/08/09/2201404/young-rights-lawyer-receives-us-based-roger-baldwin-medal-liberty

The Philippines: BARMM rights lawyer escapes assassin’s bullets

06/08/22

Maguindanao provincial director of the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission na si Atty. Ariff Lao, nakaligtas matapos pagbabarilin ang kanilang sasakyan matapos lamang itong bumili ng burger sa Sinsuat Avenue, bandang 7pm kanina.

Sa initial report, dalawang lalaking sakay ng motorsiklo ang dumating at pinaputukan si Lao subalit ito ay hindi tinamaan.

Kinumpirma ni Mayor Bruce Matabalao ang nasabing pangyayari.

Si Atty. Lao ay kamag anak ng asawa ni Mayor Matabalao.

“Luckily, his wife was unharmed,” Mayor Matabalao said.

The mayor said police have launched manhunt operation against the suspects who fled toward Gov. Gutierrez Avenue.

“He has no known enemies, he is very religious person, we are determining if the shooting was work related,” Matabalao said, adding that he has no sensational human rights case as of now.

“I believed in the capability of the police, we leave to them to take the necessary action,” he added in the vernacular.  

Investigation continues.

[…]

https://www.ndbcnews.com.ph/news/barmm-human-rights-lawyer-escapes-assassins-bullets

https://www.thedailybeast.com/philippines-lawyer-john-albert-laylo-shot-dead-next-to-his-mom-in-philadelphia-uber

https://fr.postsus.com/nouvelles/861022.html (FRANCAIS)

Call on China to immediately release lawyer Tang Jitian, who has been extralegally detained since December 2021

12/06/22

Chinese human rights lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) has been detained extralegally since December 10, 2021 by Beijing and Jilin state security under the pretext of “maintaining stability,” while his only daughter, Tang Zhengqi, is in a coma in Japan.

We understand that Mr. Tang has recently made repeated requests to the head of the State Security Bureau of Yanji City and the State Security Detachment of Yanbian Prefecture Public Security Bureau to end his inhumane and illegal detention. However, they all refused, saying that they needed to ask for instructions and consent from the State Security Bureau of the Jilin Provincial Public Security Department, the Beijing Public Security Bureau, and the Ministry of Public Security.

Mr. Tang has explained to the these agencies that his daughter is critically ill, that her care can no longer be delayed, and that continuing his detention will aggravate her condition and endanger her life. He said further that she is also in desperate financial difficulty.

Ms. Tang, who is suffering from severe tuberculosis, has been hospitalized at St. Luke’s Hospital in Tokyo for more than a year. She faces many challenges that only he, her father, can solve, including arranging for her treatment and raising the necessary funds to cover the costs of her medical care. He said that there is no one else who can take responsibility for these matters. Though his ex-wife, Liu Fenglan, is now in Japan taking care of their daughter on her own, Ms. Liu is suffering from both physical and psychological pain, and is on the verge of a breakdown.

Despite this dire situation, the Chinese government has deprived Mr. Tang of his personal freedom, leaving his ex-wife to struggle alone under the burden of such a devastating disaster, which is a complete violation of basic human decency.

[…]

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/tortured-12212021124026.html

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2206/S00140/china-must-address-grave-human-rights-concerns-and-enable-credible-international-investigation-un-experts.htm

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news/section/11/242403/Benny-Tai,-Joshua-Wong-among-27-to-be-sentenced-in-subversion-case

Afghanistan/USA: Afghan Women Judges Visual Storytelling Project Launched

10/06/22

Newly announced, the Afghan Women Judges Visual Storytelling Project seeks to collect the stories of Afghan women judges before the rise of the Taliban, and the challenges and adjustments they have faced since. The project is designed in three phrases; video portraits; a media repository and a documentary. The Visual Storytelling Project is reaching out to people who want to share their stories and who want to collaborate or support the project. Contact: DocumentaryEducation@gmail.com.  Read more on the attached précis of the project.

https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/40760/afghan-judge-receives-human-rights-award

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/24/afghan-female-judge-awarded-prestigious-human-rights-prize

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/in-depth/afghan-women-judges

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/may/17/afghan-judges-hoping-for-uk-asylum-not-treated-consistently-say-lawyers

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct41vv

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/in-depth/afghan-women-judges

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/07/speak-behalf-afghan-women

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/09/tougher-steps-needed-against-afghanistans-taliban

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/10/afghanistan-taliban-torture-civilians-panjshir

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2205/S00361/facing-critical-human-rights-challenges-afghanistan-at-a-crossroads-says-un-expert-in-kabul.htm

Hong Kong rights lawyer says he fled ‘cold winds’ of suppression

02/06/22

 When he saw the crowd of reporters waiting for him at Hong Kong airport, British human rights lawyer Michael Vidler knew he had been right to close his firm and flee the city.

“Are you afraid of being arrested? Are you afraid of Hong Kong’s security law?” journalists from pro-Beijing newspapers shouted as they chased him, cameras pointing at his face.

The events that led Vidler to leave the city he had called home for over three decades with just two days’ notice are testament to the withering of Hong Kong’s once-vibrant civil society — and the stifling of dissent brought by the national security law that Beijing imposed in 2020.

Vidler decided to shutter his firm when it was singled out in a national security case in February.

Vidler told AFP he never represented any of the 2019 protesters in court and that he was not contacted by national security police.

But “when I was accused of being an ‘anti-China black hand’, I had seen how that had worked out for people”, he said. “That’s why I left.”

He is not the first to make that calculation.

The scenes at the airport were almost identical to those in early March when Paul Harris, another British rights lawyer and former chairman of Hong Kong’s Bar Association, headed swiftly for a night flight just hours after a long conversation with national security police.

Harris too was labelled “anti-China” and a “favourite lawyer of the black-clad violence” — a pejorative term for the 2019 demonstrations.

“You only need to have a look at the way rights lawyers have been dealt with in mainland China to know where the wind is blowing and I believe those cold winds have arrived in Hong Kong,” Vidler said.

In April he boarded a one-way flight out of the city and his firm, Vidler & Co. Solicitors, officially ceased to operate on Friday.

[…]

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220602-hong-kong-rights-lawyer-says-he-fled-cold-winds-of-suppression

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/02/after-years-fighting-for-the-little-guy-hong-kong-crackdown-forces-uk-lawyer-to-flee

https://samuelbickett.substack.com/p/whats-going-on-with-the-hong-kong?s=r

https://fr.postsus.com/international/497941.html (FRANCAIS)

The Philippines: IBP condemns attack on Cotabato City lawyer; PNP, NBI action sought

17/04/22

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Sunday condemned the attempt on the life of a lawyer in Cotabato City, and requested the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to provide protection.

The IBP, in a statement, said lawyers like Atty. Ronald Torres — who was on his way home when he and his driver were shot by unidentified gunmen — are given the “difficult task of striving for justice.”

“Apart from instilling fear and restlessness in the hearts and minds of his family, such an occurrence plainly subverts the administration of justice, which is one of the hallmarks of our free and civilized society,” said IBP.

This danger, the IBP said, may “unduly temper his zeal in representing his client to the fullest extent under the law.”

 “The IBP thus respectfully calls upon our law enforcement agencies, particularly the PNP and the NBI, to thoroughly investigate the matter, exact accountability, and all the more significantly, elevate state responsibility to guarantee that lawyers can do their job without fear of reprisal or violence.”

“The IBP stands beside Atty. Torres on his quest to bring the perpetrators to justice and in his fidelity to the oath he gave as a member of the bar,” it added.

Torres was on board his bullet-proof vehicle when gunmen opened at him and his driver. Both escaped unharmed.

Torres later said that he had no known enemies and believed the attempt on his life was work-related.

The Philippines: Elections must be ‘game-changing’ moment for human rights

06/04/22

Upcoming elections next month should be a game-changing moment for human rights in the Philippines, Amnesty International said today, as it released an eight-point agenda urging all Presidential candidates to ensure that the protection of human rights is a core part of their plans.

Following six years in which human rights significantly deteriorated and were repeatedly attacked by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, the 9 May elections should be a moment to dramatically change course.

“The forthcoming elections are set to be some of the most important in recent history, and we hope they will help pave the way for a radically different approach to human rights,” said Erwin van der Borght, Interim Regional Director for Amnesty International.

“Over the past six years, thousands of people, overwhelmingly poor, have been killed by the police and other armed individuals as part of the government’s so-called ‘war on drugs’. On top of this, there has been almost no justice and accountability. The next government must restore respect for human rights, including the right to life and due process, by urgently abandoning this murderous policy and instead adopting an approach to drugs that puts health and human rights at the centre.”

Across the country there has been a sharp increase in human rights violations and overwhelming impunity under the Duterte administration.

“Political activists, human rights defenders, Indigenous Peoples, lawyers and others critical of the authorities have been threatened, attacked, arbitrarily detained and killed either because they were accused of supporting the communist movement or because of their work to expose and condemn human rights violations.”

“In addition to ending these appalling attacks, the new government must tackle years of impunity, hold perpetrators of serious violations to account in fair trials and ensure long-awaited justice and reparations for thousands of victims. Human rights violations must not be swept under the rug for political expediency.”

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/04/06/human-rights-watch-submission-universal-periodic-review-philippines

(FRANCAIS)