Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on Senator Leila M. de Lima’s first year in detention

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on Senator Leila M. de Lima’s first year in detention

Last 24 February 2018, Senator Leila M. de Lima marked her first year in detention. From trading illegal drugs under Section 5 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (RA 9165), the Department of Justice wants to charge her now with “attempt or conspiracy” to trade illegal drugs under Section 26(b) of the same law.

The UN Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners asserts that: “Except for those limitations that are demonstrably necessitated by the fact of incarceration, all prisoners shall retain the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [emphasis added].” These rights include being entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, as well as the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty. Right to due process and equal protection of the laws are also guarantees found in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

We call on authorities to apply these human rights standards to the Senator, as well as to all other persons deprived of liberty across the country. The Commission on Human Rights urges the government to lead by example in upholding the rule of law and promoting human rights principles in the diverse aspects of its governance.

As such, we demand that the wheels of justice turn faster and for the government to equally ensure that Senator De Lima be presumed innocent until proven guilty through a fair trial.

Voices of opposition on pressing issues, especially among officials within the equal branches of government, are healthy signs of a working democracy. We must resist any signs to curtail our freedoms. Check and balance mechanisms are purposely established to avoid any abuses in authority. And with the primary obligation resting on the government to promote and protect human rights, it is just but right that this administration ensures that all its actions are directed towards upholding the dignity of all. ■


PRESS STATEMENT  | 26 February 2018