INTERNATIONAL anti-drugs and human rights advocates have expressed serious concerns on the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima in connection with drug trafficking charges, saying the move was meant to silence her.
The International Commission on Jurists (ICJ), in a statement posted on its website, said the charges brought against de lima were fabricated and her prosecution was politically motivated.
“This is clearly meant to silence for good a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte,” said ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Sam Zarifi.
The group called on the government to immediately release De Lima and stop acts of harassment against her and other critics of the government.
Zarifi added that if the Philippine government really wants to stop the drug menace, it should go after those who are really involved in the illegal drug trade and bring them to court.
“We do not see this, however. We only see active persecution of those who are critical of the President’s ‘war on drugs’,” Zarifi added.
The ICJ has played a leading role in the development and implementation of international human rights law and standards.
The organization also found the statements of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd alluding to De Lima’s guilt very concerning because it violates the legal tenet that a person charged in court is presumed innocent.
The ICJ said public officials, including prosecutors, may inform the public about criminal investigations or charges but should not express a view as to the guilt of a defendant.
According to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee, public authorities and officials should not prejudge the outcome of a trial.
Meanwhile, the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) reiterated that Duterte’s war on drugs is misguided and unwinnable and comes at an unbearable cost to the people and communities.
“The use of proportionate sentences for small players in the drug market, relying on intelligence and infiltration to track senior traffickers and criminals, and implementing prevention and harm reduction measures to support people who use drugs, are more effective and far less costly responses to drugs, and uphold the rule of law and the dignity and human rights of all citizens,” it said.
The group expressed hopes that De lima will soon be released and allowed to attend the sessions of the Human Rights Council and at the International Forum on Human Rights this month in Geneva, Switzerland.
Security pulled out
It had been a week since de Lima was detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame in Quezon City.
The senator, according to her staff, is far from being depressed and has remained brave and hopeful.
She was allowed to hear mass on Ash Wednesday celebrated by Fr. Robert Reyes in the company of her family, friends and staff.
The senator is not allowed to have television or other electronic gadgets inside her cell. She spends her time reading and writing a journal about her insights and feelings on how it is to be falsely accused and detained.
On Wednesday, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd withdrew the two Senate security men assigned to secure De Lima because they were not allowed inside the detention center.
“So we pulled them out while we are trying to negotiate with the persons in charge of the detention center if they could allow the personnel of OSSAA (Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (OSSAA) inside their premises,” Pimentel told reporters.
The Senate president said De Lima can continue her legislative duty in filing bills and resolutions as well as signing committee reports.
Anything can happen
De Lima said on Thursday that God knows she is innocent and that she will one day be vindicated.
“But how soon or how late, that I don’t know,” she said.
De Lima admitted that she worries about her safety despite the assurance of President Rodrigo Duterte that she will be safe in Camp Crame.
“I can never trust him (President) because he is a murderer and he is capable of having me killed,” the senator said, adding that anything can happen to her while in detention because she is completely defenseless.
“Each day I am detained is a day of injustice. What is being done to me is extraordinary,” she said as she expressed alarm over the continuing “atmosphere of killings.”