Global group of parliaments reiterates call for De Lima’s immediate release


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The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the world’s largest and oldest organization of different parliaments across the globe, has added to the growing number of organizations who have reiterated calls for the immediate and unconditional release of opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima and the dropping of all charges against her.

During its 206th session last Nov. 1-4, the IPU Governing Council approved a nine-point recommendation by the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians which included a call for De Lima’s freedom and request for an IPU trial observer to continue monitoring her legal proceedings on trumped-up conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading charges.

“Since becoming senator, she has been the target of acts of intimidation and denigration, including by President Duterte himself,” IPU said.

The organization added that it remains “deeply concerned that Senator de Lima has been in detention for three and a half years without any serious evidence presented against her to justify the charges,” stressing the principle that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

It may be recalled that De Lima earned Mr. Duterte’s further ire when she introduced a Senate resolution calling for an investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the government’s murderous war on drugs.

In its recommendation, IPU said that that there are “multiple, strong signs” that the steps taken against De Lima come in response to her vocal opposition to the way in which Duterte was waging a drug war.

IPU highlighted “the repeated violation of the principle of the presumption of innocence, the dubious choice of jurisdiction to present the accusations against her, the timing of the criminal proceedings, the amendment of the charges and the reliance on testimonies of convicted drug traffickers.”

The international organization likewise expressed concern that De Lima has not been able to benefit from the Senate’s move towards teleconferencing amid the current pandemic.

“The parliamentary authorities can do much more to help ensure that she can fully participate in the work of the Senate and effectively represent the interests of the 14 million Filipinos who elected her,” IPU said.

Furthermore, the IPU is also concerned about “limitations imposed on Senator de Lima’s visiting rights and continued lack of access to the Internet, TV, radio, tablet or laptop.”

It may be recalled that during its 140th assembly in Doha, Qatar on April 6-10, 2019, the IPU adopted a resolution urging the Philippine government to drop all politically-motivated charges against De Lima that were based on unsubstantiated statements of convicted felons.

Before that assembly in Doha last year, a similar resolution was adopted at the conclusion of the 139th IPU Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland in Oct. 18, 2018, where the IPU expressed deep concerns over the human rights violations committed against the lady Senator.

Aside from the IPU, The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) also recently renewed its longstanding call for the “immediate and unconditional” release of De Lima and the dropping of all criminal charges against her. The case of the detained Senator was prominently featured in APHR’s report on Parliamentarians at Risk, which was published in September.

Likewise, last Sept. 17, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution calling, among others, for action on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under the present administration and for De Lima’s immediate release from unjust detention. (30)

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