UIA (Internationa Association of Lawyers) has been following the situation of lawyers in the Philippines for a few years.
Lawyers have been indeed the target of increasing attacks and are facing an oppressive working environment. At least 42 lawyers and prosecutors have been killed between July 2016 and September 5, 2019 including 24 practicing lawyers. Lawyers are also harassed and intimidated: they are subjected to (death) threats, surveillance, labelling, and other forms of attacks. Many of the lawyers have been “red-tagged” over allegations they support communist rebel groups.
Most of these attacks against lawyers took place as a result of discharging professional duties or are seemingly work-related. Especially at risk are lawyers representing people accused of terrorist or drug-related crimes, or those who are critical of the government’s policies or behaviour, such as journalists, political opposition leaders, and human rights defenders.
On March 14-18, 2019, an international delegation of lawyers representing various lawyers’ groups, including UIA, reported from Manilla after a fact-finding mission about the alarming situation on the Philippines.
Dutch Organization Lawyers for Lawyers initiated the statement signed for more than 150 bars, organizations and individual lawyers.
UIA, Lawyers for Lawyers and more than 150 bar associations, international and national lawyer’s organizations, and legal professionals from 49 countries around the world called on the Government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to stop the attacks against and extrajudicial killings of lawyers and to end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur.
The above report was made in cooperation with our Friend Ms Romina BOSSA ABIVEN Human Rights and Legal Profession Project Assistant, Paris/France.