De Lima defends activist Browder vs pro-Duterte attacks

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has defended renown activist and author of the New York Times bestseller “Red Notice” Bill Browder against coordinated political attacks from Mr. Duterte’s troll armies and supporters on social media.

De Lima made the remark after Browder was attacked by paid trolls and pro-Duterte bloggers for tirelessly campaigning to impose sanctions against human rights abusers from across the world, including De Lima’s persecutors, through the Magnitsky Act.

“Attacks vs you are proofs that rights abusers in PH have been notified alright.  In fact, they’re now erasing their dirty tracks, but the door to the world is closing in on them! Clock is ticking down,” De Lima’s post on Twitter read.

“It looks like troll armies got their envelopes. Apart from deleting their evil tracks, they are now busy spreading fake news that have long been debunked,” she added.

The Magnitsky Act, enacted during the Obama administration, was named after Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who experienced reprisal after uncovering a tax fraud scheme linked to Russian officials. He was jailed in Russia and later died.

The Magnitsky Act, or the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, has become a powerful tool for enforcing accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated by repressive regimes.

Browder has spent almost a decade conducting a global campaign seeking to deny visa applications and to freeze assets of human rights abusers globally, particularly those who played a role in Magnitsky’s false arrest and death. He is also among those pushing for sanctions against De Lima’s persecutors.

In his recent post on Twitter that attracted attacks from trolls and pro-Duterte bloggers, Browder said “[t]he Philippine Government is having a full scale meltdown at the possibility of being sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act for the unjust detention of Sen. Leila de Lima…”

De Lima has received bipartisan support from among the members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee which unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Philippine government to free her from detention and drop all charges against her.

US Senate Resolution (SR) No. 142, primarily authored by Senators Marco Rubio and Edward Markey, adopted an amendment calling on the US President to impose sanctions under the Magnitsky Act, namely, entry ban and US asset freeze, on government officials responsible for orchestrating De Lima’s arrest and prolonged detention, as well as on members of security forces and Philippine government officials responsible for the extrajudicial killings.

In her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 668, the lady Senator from Bicol also thanked Browder for campaigning for the Global Magnitsky Act and ensuring that abusers and human rights violators are punished.

“Bill Browder, the British fund manager and activist who pushed for the Magnitsky Act, welcomes its application on Philippine officials as a powerful tool against oppressors and human rights violators. [T]hank you, Mr. Browder and other champions for your work,” she said.

His grandfather, Earl Browder, the American trade unionist who, in 1927, met with and helped Philippine labor leaders establish relations with communist Russia, would have loved the irony of his capitalist grandson being responsible for the law that is now benefitting Philippine human rights defenders,” she added.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said the Global Magnitsky Act sends “seismic shock to tyrannical powers who cut corners on human rights and will not stop at anything to shut down democratic voices.”

“I see a tool inspired by divine justice in Magnitsky Act – a powerful tool indeed to fight impunity,” she said.

Last Dec. 20, US President Trump signed into law the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which includes a provision banning the entry of Philippine government officials responsible for De Lima’s wrongful detention.  (30)

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