Complaint on killings of lawyers, prosecutors, judges filed with UN to hold PH ‘accountable’

United Nations

A complaint to hold the Philippine government accountable for the attacks and killings of lawyers, prosecutors and judges has been filed before the United Nations (UN).

The complaint was filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) before the office of UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges Margaret Satterthwaite in Geneva, Switzerland.

NUPL is a member of the of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch.

Incidentally, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla will leave for Geneva on Friday, Nov. 11, to lead the Philippine delegation for the 4th Cycle of the UPR of the Philippines, a preview mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The UPR is “a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.”

In its complaint, the NUPL cited that it has “recorded 86 killings of lawyers, judges and prosecutors among a total of 262 work-related attacks in the past 15 years.”

“Five of the victims of killings were NUPL members whose clients include indigenous peoples, peasants, farmers, workers, environment advocates, political prisoners and human rights defenders,” it said.

It pointed out that 67 percent of the attacks in the last 15 years occurred under the administration of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte including 61 percent of attacks against lawyers which “appear to be linked to the handling of human rights and public interest cases, as well as providing services to human rights defenders and civil society groups.”

“But the harassment of lawyers and judges has gone unabated under the succeeding Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration,” the complaint stated.

It cited that recently “members of the NUPL were red-tagged together with Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, a Manila trial court judge that dismissed the petition for proscription filed by the Philippine government against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples’ Army.”

“The NUPL members were falsely branded as ‘urban operatives’ of the underground movement while the NUPL itself has been profiled as a ‘communist terrorist group’,” it said.

“These attacks on officers of the court have to stop once and for all,” NUPL Secretary General Josalee S. Deinla said in a statement.

“If lawyers are hampered from freely and independently exercising their profession and if judges are threatened for their judicial decisions, access to justice and judicial independence will suffer,” Deinla pointed out.

In its complaint, the NUPL urged the UNHRC to “ask the Philippine government to ensure accountability for the violations and fulfill its obligations as a duty bearer under international and domestic human rights laws.”

“Among the calls of the Philippine UPR Watch, the NUPL is urging the Philippine government to conduct transparent, independent and impartial investigations of killings of lawyers and judges and to ensure that perpetrators of attacks, especially those committed by state agents, will be brought to justice,” it added.