Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima continues to receive growing support from global parliamentarians and leaders who express concern over her plight under the Duterte regime by calling for her release and dropping of all trumped-up drug charges against her.
Among those who recently expressed their solidarity with De Lima, who marked her fourth year in unjust detention last Feb. 24, include Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights Irwin Cotler, Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance of the German Government Bärbel Kofler, US Senators Richard Durbin, Chris Coons and Bob Menendez, Canadian Parliamentarian Anita Vandenbeld, and Canadian Senator Marilou McPhedran.
Cotler said the fabricated case against De Lima is “emblematic” of the systematic persecution of perceived critics of the Duterte regime, particularly those who are opposed to the government’s move to undermine democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
“We join the rest of the international community in calling on the authorities to release Sen. De Lima from her arbitrary and unjust detention; to permit her to be free, engaged and creative senator that she has been on behalf of the Filipino community, and to do what the rest of the world has already done and acknowledged: to recognize her as a great human rights defender,” Cotler said in a video message.
Kofler, for his part, said that she is watching the trial of Senator Leila de Lima with growing concern and that allegations against her must be investigated transparently and in compliance with all constitutional principles, without delaying the proceedings against them.
In a separate video message, Durbin, the US Senate Majority Whip, said that the Duterte regime should “assure a quick and credible trial for Senator De Lima or simply release her,” maintaining that the Senator is detained on bogus charges.
Coons posted on Twitter that “Senator de Lima must be freed immediately & allowed to continue her important work of strengthening rule of law & governance in the Philippines.”
Menendez also posted on Twitter his message for the lady Senator: “For 4 years, @SenLeiladeLima has been unjustly imprisoned in the Philippines for shining a spotlight on police abuses & killings during Pres. Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’. I call on @philippinesusa to #FreeLeilaNow & cease all attacks on #HumanRights defenders.”
Speaking before the House of Commons, Vandelbeld said she is appalled that De Lima is still detained. The former even asked all members of the House to join other parliamentarians around the world in calling for De Lima’s immediate release.
“It is appalling that today she is still in prison,” Vandelbeld said. “Senator de Lima is in prison because she is a human rights defender. She has not only been deprived of freedom but also her rights to fulfill her legislative mandate and participate in the democratic debate.”
In a Twitter post accompanying a video of her, McPhedran urged the Philippine government “to immediately release Senator de Lima, drop all charges against her, remove restrictions on her personal and work conditions and allow her to fully discharge her legislative mandate.”
Aside from them, other international personalities who took to Twitter to condemn De Lima’s continued detention and show their support for her include Dr. Hannah Neumann of European Parliament, Human Rights Ambassador Bahia Tahzib-Lie (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), and EU Special Representative for Human Rights and EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia Eamon Gilmore, to name a few.
“She’s one of the fiercest critics of Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ which has resulted in so many deaths. @SenLeiladeLima must be freed now!” Neumann posted.
“The Netherlands underlines the importance of #RuleOfLaw & joins the call for a free & fair trial of @SenLeiladeLima,” Tahzib-Lie said.
Gilmore, meanwhile, vowed that the EU “will continue to monitor” De Lima’s case, saying that he “join the calls to ensure her right to due process, independence of judiciary and fair trial.”
Over 500 leaders, parliamentarians, activists, and organizations from different parts of the world have recently signed a Statement of Indignation calling for the immediate release of De Lima and the dropping of all trumped-up drug charges filed against her by the vindictive Duterte regime. (30)