UNHRC asks Philippine gov’t to release detained Senator De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — A working group of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has formally asked the Philippine government to release detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima.
In a 13-page Opinion released to the media on Wednesday, the UNHRC’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNHRC-WGAD) said De Lima’s detention was “arbitrary” and “in violation of several provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
It added that De Lima’s detention “resulted from her personal conviction and public statements regarding extrajudicial killings in the Philippines” and “of the exercise of her right to take part in government and the conduct of public affairs.”
The working group noted that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has shown “unfavorable intentions” towards the detained senator, citing “unfavorable remarks made publicly by the President and his allies against her” after she expressed her intention to investigate the extrajudicial killings linked to the war against drugs.
It concluded that De Lima’s detention constitutes “discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as her status as a human rights defender and as a woman,” because her political views and convictions are “clearly the center” of the senator’s case.
The UNHRSC-WGAD pointed out that the authorities have displayed an attitude towards De Lima that “can only be characterized as targeted and discriminatory.”
It then asked the Philippine government to take the steps necessary “to remedy the situation of De Lima without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms,” adding that the “appropriate remedy” would be to release the senator immediately.
The UNHRC panel also referred De Lima’s case to the three separate UN Special Rapporteurs: Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
The UNHRC panel added that it has formally conveyed the allegations regarding De Lima’s case to the Philippine government last February but the government has not responded. /muf
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