AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PHILIPPINES
20 November 2019
Philippines: Prisoner of conscience Senator de Lima should be released immediately
On the 1000th day of the arbitrary detention of prisoner of conscience Senator Leila de Lima, a prominent critic of the government’s “war on drugs”, Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippines’ Section Director, said:
“Every day that Senator Leila de Lima spends in detention is yet another day of injustice committed against her. We join human rights defenders in the Philippines and across the world in calling for an end to her arbitrary detention and for her immediate release.
To date, there has been no substantial evidence on record that can sustain the allegations against her. Instead, government prosecutors have amended the charges against her, in a seeming attempt to delay court proceedings. We reiterate our call on Philippine authorities to drop all charges against her and release her immediately and unconditionally. Pending her release, there should be no arbitrary restrictions, including denial of visits, imposed on her.
Senator de Lima is a brave champion of human rights. She remains detained solely for her peaceful and legitimate criticism of the Duterte administration, most notably its violent ‘war on drugs’ that has claimed the lives of thousands of mostly poor and marginalized people. Her detention is nothing more than a shameless attempt to silence dissent and stifle efforts to expose the Philippine government’s human rights atrocities. Senator de Lima must be released now.”
Senator Leila de Lima was arrested on 24 February 2017 by the Philippine National Police (PNP) after being charged with drug-related offenses. She has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, Metro Manila since then. She has been a vocal critic of the Duterte administration and the human rights violations that have been committed in the so-called ‘war on drugs’ waged since President Duterte took power in June 2016.
Initially facing three charges under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 for the non-bailable offense of illegal drug trading, her charges were changed to ‘conspiracy’ to trade drugs, also a non-bailable offense. If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Based on statements of people convicted for drug-related offenses, prosecutors claimed that Senator de Lima had connections to drug syndicates and allowed the proliferation of drugs in the National Bilibid Prison. Senator de Lima has consistently denied the charges, and has dismissed the allegations as an attempt by the President and his political allies to silence and discredit her.
From her cell in Camp Crame, Senator de Lima continues to issue daily handwritten dispatches, commenting on current social and political issues in the Philippines and drawing attention to human rights violations in the country.