De Lima thanks Amnesty International for renewed call for her release


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is grateful to the Amnesty International (AI) for fighting for justice and human rights in the Philippines and for their unwavering concern over her plight by demanding accountability from all the killings under the Duterte regime and renewing its call for her immediate release, among others.

De Lima, who has been named by the Amnesty International as one of the notable women human rights defenders under threat and recognized as the very first recipient of AI Philippines’ Ignite Award for “Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender in 2018”, expressed her gratefulness after the organization released a report condemning the human rights abuses in the country, including her most unjust detention.

“I thank the Amnesty International for their steadfast resolve to promote and protect human rights in the Philippines, especially during these times when rights abuses continue to run rampant despite a global health crisis,” she said.

“This recent report by AI, which was released less than two weeks after the European Parliament adopted a resolution highlighting the deteriorating human rights situation in our country, reminds us that the world does not cease watching,” she added.

In its report entitled “’My Job is to Kill’: Ongoing human rights violations and impunity in the Philippines” released in September, AI chronicles the continued extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, including attacks on activists, crackdown on perceived government critics like De Lima, and killings of journalists, among others.

“Four years into the Duterte administration, the human rights crisis in the Philippines deepens. Killings of alleged drug offenders and others suspected of committing crimes persist in a climate of impunity amid unceasing incitement to violence by the President,” the summary of the report read.

“The Duterte administration has also launched a crackdown against the press and other critics of the government, which is having an increasingly chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression in the country,” it added.

In the report, AI urged Philippine authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release Senator Leila de Lima who has been solely detained for the peaceful exercise of her human rights, and drop all politically-motivated charges against her.”

“Senator Leila de Lima, a prisoner of conscience and one of the President’s most vocal critics, is in her fourth year of arbitrary detention on politically-motivated charges after pushing for a Senate investigation of drug-related killings,” the report read.

“She has recently expressed concern that witnesses are under intense pressure to testify against her, and there has also been concern over the death of a key prosecution witness Jaybee Sebastian, who died under suspicious circumstances,” it added.

Meanwhile, to contribute to accountability and justice for victims of EJKS, AI pressed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to “establish an independent investigative mechanism, mandated to conduct an in-depth investigation into human rights violations and abuses in the Philippines.” The international human rights group likewise urged the International Criminal Court (ICC), through the Office of the Prosecutor, to expedite its preliminary examination of the human rights situation in the country.

Amnesty International, on several occasions including De Lima’s first year and second year of unjust detention as well as last June when the organization calls on Philippine authorities to end disproportionate restrictions imposed on her, expressed support to De Lima by urging the Philippine government to release her and immediately drop all charges against her. (30)

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