February 23, 2018
The Observatory condemns Philippine Senator Leila de Lima’s arbitrary and politically motivated detention, and calls for her immediate release and for all charges against her to be dropped. Tomorrow will mark one year since Senator de Lima, a critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, was detained on unsubstantiated drug charges.
“Senator de Lima’s arbitrary detention is aimed at silencing her and intimidating other lawmakers and government critics from speaking out against the brutal killings that have been carried out as part of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’ She should be immediately released and all charges against her dropped,” said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.
On February 24, 2017, Ms. Leila de Lima handed herself in to police, a week after the Department of Justice filed three charges against her under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, and a day after a Manila court issued a warrant for her arrest. The charges were related to de Lima’s alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring inside the New Bilibid Prison in Metro Manila’s Muntinlupa City, while she was Department of Justice Secretary. If convicted, de Lima could face between 12 years and life in prison.
De Lima has been a staunch critic of President Duterte’s approach to combatting crimes and drug trafficking. In 2009, as Chair of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR), she initiated a probe into Duterte’s involvement in the ‘Davao Death Squad’ during his time as mayor of Davao City. In August 2016, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, de Lima convened hearings on the hundreds of killings that had been carried out as part of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’ On September 19, 2016, a group of Senators voted to replace de Lima as Chair of the Committee, effectively shutting down the hearings.
President Duterte has repeatedly targeted de Lima. Prior to her imprisonment, he had pledged to “destroy her in public.” He also made personal attacks against her, accusing de Lima of “immorality” for allegedly having had an affair with her driver.
#FreeLeilaNow #StandUp4HumanRights #WorldIsWatching#StopPoliticalPersecution