De Lima thanks parliamentarians’ group for support for her freedom

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today thanked the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) for endorsing the findings and recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council–Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNHRC-WGAD) for denouncing her arbitrary detention and calling for her immediate release.

De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte administration, said she is grateful for the continued support she is getting from the international community despite the unprecedented magnitude of harassment against her by the President and his henchmen.

“I am grateful that Parliamentarians for Global Action saw through the lies of the Duterte administration and chose to support and fight for my right to fair treatment in spite of the government’s effort to peddle fake news against me to taint my integrity,” she said.

“PGA’s endorsement of the WGAD Opinion only further confirms my political persecution and unjust detention that are obviously connected to my staunch criticisms of the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs and other anti-human rights policies,” she added.

In an official statement released last Dec. 17, the PGA said that it “fully endorses the findings contained in WGAD Opinion No. 61/2018 regarding the case of the Senator” (see here: https://www.pgaction.org/news/call-for-immediate-release-leila-m-de-lima.html)

In a very comprehensive 13-page Opinion adopted last Aug. 24 during its 82nd session and published last Nov. 30, the UNHRC-WGAD held that De Lima’s detention since Feb. 24, 2017 is arbitrary and in violation of various provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Noting that the deprivation of De Lima’s liberty “resulted from her personal conviction and public statements regarding extrajudicial killings in the Philippines,” the UN Panel said that the Philippine government should immediately free her and allow her to fulfill her duties as a Senator and as a human rights defender.

In its decision, the Working Group maintained that “no trial of Ms. De Lima should have taken place.” Noting the prejudgment made by the then Secretary of Justice of De Lima’s guilt in a trial by publicity during the congressional hearings on the Bilibid drug trade, the Working Group concluded that “the violation of Ms. De Lima’s rights to a fair trial are of such gravity as to render her deprivation of liberty arbitrary.”

The Working Group also expressed its “particular concern at the sexist statements and attacks on (De Lima’s) personal life by President Duterte and his political allies,” noting that she has “been targeted and the subject of attacks and discriminatory language due to her gender.”

The UN Working Group has urged the Duterte administration “to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Ms. De Lima without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms.”

With the unwavering support she is getting from groups and individuals who vouch for her integrity and recognize her political persecution, De Lima said she believes her vindication will come in time.

“Truth and justice will always succeed no matter what, especially with concerted efforts from the public to demand for accountability from those who violate – not only mine – but of the public’s dignity and human rights,” she said.

The PGA is among the growing number of groups and human rights advocates who have expressed serious concern over the illegal arrest and detention of De Lima over trumped-up drug charges.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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