AIJA News

The Philippines: Attacks against lawyers further escalating

23 June 2021

Together with 29 lawyers’ organisations, bar associations and human rights organisations, AIJA signed a joint statement on the escalating attacks against lawyers in the Philippines. 

The undersigned organisations express our deep concern over the attacks and the oppressive working environment lawyers still face in the Philippines.

We call again on the Duterte Government to adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers and end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur.

Recommendations:

In view of the above, the undersigned organisations and individuals urge the Government of the Philippines to:

1. Investigate promptly, effectively, thoroughly and independently all extrajudicial killings and attacks against lawyers, and other jurists, with the aim of identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards;

2. Take all reasonable measures to guarantee the safety and physical integrity of lawyers, including the provision of adequate protection measures, in consultation with the persons concerned;

3. Create and fully support an independent, credible and impartial body, i.e. not under the control or the influence of the government, composed of members selected exclusively from nominees from lawyers organizations, civil society, the Church and the like in a transparent way, who are known for their human rights record, independency and integrity; this civilian investigative body must be entrusted with the necessary investigative and prosecutorial powers to investigate promptly, impartially and effectively - under international supervisory mandate - all reports and complaints against state security agents with respect to extrajudicial killings, threats and other forms of harassment; the recommendations of this investigative body should be immediately followed by the government.

4. Consistently condemn all forms of threats and attacks against lawyers publicly, at all political levels and in strong terms; and,

5. Fully comply with and create awareness about the core values underlying the legal profession, amongst others by bringing the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers to the attention of relevant stakeholders, especially members of the executive, police, and the military.

Read more about the final statement here.