US sanctions meant to stop human rights abuses – De Lima

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored that the recent US Senate resolution calling for her release is not an intrusion to Philippine affairs but a precautionary measure in preventing rogue regimes from further attacking democracy and human rights.

De Lima, a known political prisoner under the present administration, noted that the US bipartisan resolution also calls, among others, for a US entry ban and asset freeze against perpetrators of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and her persecutors.

“This is a laudable step forward in the international effort to put pressure on the Duterte Administration to end its murderous drug war, stop the persecution of those who raise a voice against the murders, and to free those already imprisoned for defending human rights and protecting human life,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 674.

“While Duterte and his sycophants treat this as foreign meddling, they should be aware by now that in this day and age, no country can go on killing and persecuting its own citizens without any consequences and push back from the rest of the world. We are one species…” she added.

Last Dec. 11, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved Senate Resolution (S. Res) No. 142 calling on the Philippine government to release her and drop politically motivated trumped-up drug charges against her, and also to drop all the charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler.

It also called on US President Trump to impose sanctions against Philippine officials responsible for De Lima’s persecution, and security forces and government officials who perpetrated extrajudicial killings, as provided in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

These sanctions include denial of US visas for travel to the US and freezing of US assets and properties, specifically, on the EJK perpetrators and on government officials responsible for “orchestrating [De Lima’s] arrest and prolonged detention.”

The Duterte administration however slammed the US senators for supposedly appearing “not to understand the judicial process of this country” as he accused the members of the opposition from giving misleading reports to the foreign lawmakers.

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez claimed that the S. Res 142 may be interpreted as “undue interference” in the domestic affairs while Duterte’s allied in the Senate reminded the US lawmakers that the country is no longer their colony.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, explained that the US Senate is not attacking the country’s sovereignty or judicial process because it wants to ensure that murderous regimes do not gain legitimacy through the silence and acquiescence of the rest of the world.

“The world knows the danger of regimes and tyrants who casually advocate the murder of human beings before the international community. It encourages their own homegrown psychopaths and right-wing fascists forces to propagate hate and violence among their own people and against each other,” she said.

“The governments of the free world know that by raising a voice against Duterte, they are protecting their own people from being infected with the same poison that he is spreading to the world,” she added.

US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) are the main authors of SR No. 142, which was filed as early as April 4. They authored it along with Richard Durbin (D-IL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

The resolution was also subsequently sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tina Smith, Patrick Leahy, Brian Schatz, Dianne Feinstein, Benjamin Cardin, and Cory Booker. Cardin, along with Sen. John McCain, is the author of the Global Magnitsky Act. Booker is running for president in the next US elections. (30)

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