Canadian Senators condemn De Lima’s continued unjust detention, call for her release


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Canadian Senator Marilou McPhedran has reiterated her appeal for the immediate release of Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima by filing a motion before the House of Commons of Canada condemning the wrongful imprisonment of the Filipina Senator.

            McPhedran’s Motion, logged as Motion No. 75, was supported by fellow Canadian Senator Leo Housakos who said that De Lima “is being stomped on with a boot to the throat” when she is only standing up for justice, fighting for truth and battling against corruption.

            In her recent statement before her fellow legislators in the House of Commons of Canada, McPhedran said she introduced Motion No. 75 as an opportunity to join their voices as independent thinking senators, along with parliamentarians and other human rights defenders across the world, in taking a stand against injustice towards a sitting Senator.

            “Honorable colleagues, we know that a working democracy requires dedicated persons both in government and civil society to be able to scrutinize governments and hold to account those in power. And these include Senators in Canada and Senators in the Philippines,” she said.

            “Many of our allies around the world have already taken a stand. The immediate release of Senator De Lima has been called for by non-governmental organizations, human rights groups, parliamentary bodies and individuals.”

            “We will not be the first parliamentary institution to speak out, but if we do, our action on this motion will be widely respected and will send a signal as to where we stand on human rights by standing with the sister Senator who is paying too steeply for speaking truth to power,” she added.

            McPhedran recalled that among the groups that already expressed concern for De Lima’s unjust detention include, among others, the European Parliament, the Australian Parliament, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the US Congress.

            In a separate statement on Twitter, McPhedran said her fellow Canadian Senators cannot take for granted the right to be critical of their government, saying “for this right @SenLeiladeLima has been forced to sacrifice everything. Canada cannot stand by while autocrats silence free society.”

            Meanwhile, Senator Housakos in his speech expressing support for Motion No. 75, said that De Lima’s unjust detention is the price she has paid for standing up against violence and corruption.

            “She stood up, when she was a minister, against drug trafficking and against a drug cartel. She stood up against corruption. And of course, the price she has paid is to have the Duterte administration in the Philippines press trumped-up charges against her,” he said.

“The injustice in this particular case has been well documented and beautifully highlighted in the speech of Senator McPhedran. It has been such an egregious injustice that we’ve seen Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International speak out against this,” he added.

As such, Housakos concluded his speech by telling his colleagues that “this motion is worthy of our support,” adding, “on behalf of our caucus, I would like to call the question and I hope this will get the consideration and unanimous support that it deserves.”

De Lima, in separate letters, thanked McPhedran and Housakos for expressing concern over her plight fighting for the rule of law, democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights. (30)

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