Filipino lawyer elected transitional president of int’l group
MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino lawyer was elected as the transitional president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).
Human rights lawyer Edre U. Olalia, who serves as the incumbent President of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), was elected as transitional IADL president during the council’s meeting last November 8 to 10, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.
Olalia’s term will end in November 2020 when the group’s next Congress is held in South Africa, where his regular presidency may be potentially confirmed for a period until 2023.
The Filipino lawyer has been a member of the IADL governing bureau since 2010.
Aside from Olalia, other members of the IADL Transitional Team include outgoing President Jeanne Mirer, outgoing Secretary-General Jan Fermon, and transitional Secretary-General Micol Savia.
The IADL was founded in 1947 and is composed of democratic lawyers, jurists, law professors, judges, prosecutors and law students across 80 countries.
Red tagging of activists
In a resolution adopted November 10, the lawyer group condemned the series of raids conducted by the police in offices of several partylists and cause-oriented groups in the country.
The group said the Philippine government has “consciously and methodically made it a policy to brand and tag as communists or so-called communist fronts individuals and organizations critical of its programs and positions.”
The group said that the pronouncements and policies made by President Rodrigo Duterte “resulted in or engendered, among others, the targeting and killing of activists.”
“This so-called red-tagging is consistent with an evidently premeditated design of targeting these individuals and organizations for legal assault and even violent attacks in clear breach of international human rights law,” the group noted.
Further, IADL called on the Philippine government to “stop the targeting and red-tagging of individuals and organizations deemed critical of its programs and policies, and to allow them to freely engage in legal discourse and legitimate actions consistent with the principles of democracy and independence
Attacks vs lawyers, members of legal profession
The group also condemned the number of attacks and killings against lawyers and judges since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.
“The number of attacks on and even killings of judges and lawyers has intensified with at least 44 documented murders since July 2016 with the latest incident of two more judges killed in one day, one of whom happened to have ordered the case of activists dismissed,” IADL said.
The group resolved to “conduct or support international fact-finding missions into those attacks and killings and to urge the Philippine government to cooperate and allow them entry into the country.”
Further, IADL also vowed to “earnestly study the filing of cases in different countries, as may be warranted by the facts and evidence, against President Duterte and all those responsible for the killings, torture and other grievous violations of international law utilizing the principles of universal jurisdiction whenever applicable.”
The group added that it would also endorse pending communications before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity against Duterte.
Some 50 lawyers from 30 nations were present during the group’s meeting in Belgium. /jpv
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