SC needs full gov’t support to protect lawyers, judges – CHR

Published March 24, 2021, 2:28 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Wednesday, March 24, the Supreme Court (SC) needs the help of all government agencies, particularly those in law enforcement, to eradicate the rising incidence of threats and killings of lawyers and judges.

Commission on Human Rights (MANILA BULLETIN)
Commission on Human Rights (MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said: “The Supreme Court cannot do this alone. We continue to urge the government, especially our law enforcers, to uphold their duty to respect and protect the life and liberty of every individual.”

De Guia pointed out that the entire government has to support the SC’s courses of action to ensure that a functional justice system remains in check, especially now when human rights are constantly being threatened and challenged.

She said the CHR lauded the strong message aired by the SC on the invaluable role played by lawyers and judges in upholding human rights. They administer justice and uncover the truth, especially in cases concerning gross human rights violations, she also said.

Because of lawyers and judges, impunity can be addressed and perpetrators can be held accountable, she stressed.

But she pointed out that members of the legal system need to be free from threats and intimidations in order for them to convict the guilty and free the innocent.

“Ultimately, to assault the legal profession — hence, an assault to the Judiciary — is to assault the established check and balance in the government enshrined in the Constitution,” De Guia explained.

On March 23, the SC issued a statement that condemned “in the strongest sense every instance where a lawyer is threatened or killed, and where a judge is threatened and unfairly labeled.”

SC Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka said the SC took five courses of action to address the threats and harassment faced by members of the judiciary.

These include seeking the cooperation of lower courts in providing relevant information regarding the killings of lawyers or judges within the past 10 years, promulgating rules on the use of body cameras for the service of search and arrest warrants, coordinating with law enforcement agencies in order to investigate the recent red-tagging of a judge, providing “proper remedies” such as petitions for the writs of Amparo or habeas data, and coordinating with all other concerned groups, including civil society.