From Human Rights Watch
The Philippine government should drop the politically-motivated charges against Senator Leila de Lima, a prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive “war on drugs,” Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and FORUM-ASIA said today. De Lima has been arbitrarily detained inside the headquarters of the Philippine National Police since February 24, 2017, in violation of her constitutional rights as a sitting senator and in contravention of international human rights law.
The arbitrary detention and mistreatment of de Lima is emblematic of the deteriorating situation for all human rights defenders in the Philippines, the organizations said.
“Senator de Lima’s two years in custody show the lengths the Duterte administration will go to stifle dissent and threaten human rights defenders who demand accountability for violations,” said John Samuel, executive director of FORUM-ASIA. “The government’s fabricated charges against her only reflect how compromised its institutions have become under the present administration.”
De Lima was the first politician to be targeted by Duterte’s administration after he became president in June 2016. However, de Lima has faced Duterte’s ire since 2009 when, as chairperson of the national Commission on Human Rights, she launched an investigation into extrajudicial executions by the so-called “Davao death squad” in Davao City, where Duterte was mayor for more than two decades.
In August 2016, de Lima, as chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, started an investigation into the killings that began immediately after Duterte took office. Duterte and his allies in the executive and legislative branches responded with a year-long smear campaign against de Lima, in Duterte’s words, to “destroy her publicly.” Legislators blocked the committee’s investigation and instead started an inquiry into her alleged romantic affairs – even threatening to make public a purported sex video of hers – and her alleged links with people convicted and imprisoned for drug-related offences.
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