De Lima thanks US Senate for unanimous consent of reso for her release, sanctions vs her jailers & EJK perpetrators

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima expressed gratitude to the US Senate for the passage of a bipartisan resolution calling for her immediate release from wrongful imprisonment and invoking Global Magnitsky sanctions against her persecutors.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte administration, defined the unanimous approval of US Senate Resolution (SR) 142 as a historic moment for democracy and human rights accountability in the Philippines.

“The approval, in unanimous consent, of US Senate Resolution 142 is a watershed in the history of keeping democracy and human rights accountability in the country and the role the US play in ensuring it,” De Lima said in a handwritten statement.

SR 142, which has passed last Jan. 8, calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act—such as revocation of US visas and freezing of assets—against Philippine officials and security forces responsible for “orchestrating the arrest and prolonged detention of Senator De Lima.”

The Global Magnitsky Act, which was amended in 2016, grants power to the US President to invoke visa and travel restrictions, financial sanctions and criminal charges, if necessary, to serious human rights violators from anywhere in the world.

“The case against me, apart from being fake and invented, has no internal legal consistency or integrity altogether and has been fueled by tyrannical powers and alignment of greed and political opportunism in the Philippine politics,” she said.

“That is clear since day [one],” De Lima, who has been a prisoner of conscience since 2016, stressed.

SR 142 not only condemns the Philippine government for De Lima’s wrongful imprisonment but also seeks the imposition of same sanctions against “members of security forces and Philippine officials responsible for extrajudicial killings.”

In addition, it also calls out the harassment of the Duterte administration against the media and journalists, in particular, against Rappler and its chief executive officer Maria Ressa.

De Lima thanked Senators Edward Markey, Dick Durbin, Marco Rubio, Marsha Blackburn, Chris Coons, Patrick Leahy, and Ben Cardin and other US lawmakers who supported the passage of SR 142, for their united and bipartisan efforts in advocating for her release.

“I sincerely thank the granite resolve of Senators Durbin, Markey, Rubio, Blackburn, Coons, Leahy and Cardin, and the rest of the US Senate for standing strong and firm for the larger truths behind my persecution,” De Lima said.

For their part, the US Senators hailed the passage of SR 142 and reiterated calls for the end of both extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and human rights violations against critics of the Duterte administration.

“[T]he United States Senate makes clear that the Duterte government must end its human rights abuses,” Markey said in a statement.

“No arbitrary detention or illegitimate charge can obscure the fact that Senator De Lima, Maria Ressa, and all those who speak truth to power exemplify the highest democratic ideals,” the US Senator from Massachusetts added.

Durbin, for his part, noted that the “honorable” way forward for the Duterte regime is to ensure a “quick and credible trial for Senator de Lima or by simply do the right thing and release her.”

“In the end, these will be important tests of whether cherished democratic norms we share with our long-standing Filipino allies will be respected by President Duterte,” he added.

Last Dec. 20, 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 involved in De Lima’s “wrongful imprisonment.”

That provision from the US Appropriations bill also sought, among others, the same prohibition on the entry of certain “officials of the governments of Turkey, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, relative to Mustafa Kassem, an American citizen imprisoned by the government of Egypt, and other cases of wrongful detention of a locally employed staff of a U.S. diplomatic mission or a U.S. citizen national.” (30)

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