Red-tagging image from the Philippines including Ben Ramos. Photo: JALISA

WHEREAS, there is documented, sufficient and credible factual basis to conclude that the Philippine Government through its police, armed forces and other government agencies and institutions under the direction of a newly-created National Task Force 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;

WHEREAS, 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;

WHEREAS, public and official pronouncements and other policies in related presidential issuances by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte resulted in or engendered, among others, the targeting and killing of activists, around 87 including two lawyers of which reportedly happened in the island of Negros in central Philippines alone,

WHEREAS, the raids were implemented on the basis of facially incredible accusations that the said offices were being used as training centers for recruitment into the underground New People’s Army (NPA);

WHEREAS, there are serious allegations that the search warrants used to conduct the raids appear to have been procured irregularly;

WHEREAS, as a result of such raids, over 60 individuals including minors identified with the said groups have been arrested and detained on what appears to be trumped up non-bailable charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms resulting from consistent claims of routine planting of such items;

WHEREAS, on November 5 raids were conducted in other similar offices in Metro Manila and, based on reports and information, many more are expected to be targeted, including those of legitimate research and humanitarian aid groups, and particularly the building of the national office of our Philippine affiliate the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), thus giving reasonable ground to believe that there is an ongoing or impending crackdown on dissent and adverse political advocacy;

WHEREAS, in reaction to calls to look into the irregularity of the searches and illegality of the arrests, the military have issued statements that judges and prosecutors who dismiss cases against activists should be the ones investigated;

WHEREAS, the number of attacks on and even killings of judges and lawyers have 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, and

WHEREAS, we stand in steadfast solidarity with our fellow lawyers and other human rights defenders in the Philippines who have been under constant threat for the exercise of their basic democratic rights recognized under international law and by the community of nations.

NOW, THEREFORE, we in the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) with members in 80 countries worldwide, through its Council* in session, hereby resolve:

  1. To condemn in the strongest terms the attacks committed on activists and legitimate people’s organizations especially lawyers and members of the legal profession who apparently have been killed in the exercise of their profession;
  2. To oppose the deplorable and repulsive practice of using the very laws which seek to protect as weapons to attack the legitimate exercise of the people’s fundamental rights, freedoms and civil liberties;
  3. To call on the Government of the Philippines to stop the targeting and redtagging 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;
  4. To join demands for a credible and comprehensive investigation into the killings of activists and lawyers in order to hold accountable those who ordered them as well as a thorough and expeditious review of all cases filed against activists;
  5. 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;
  6. To urge IADL member organizations to send communications to governments, particularly those in Asia, calling out the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law; initiate or support international campaign committees; and coordinate bilateral actions and activities with other member countries experiencing such similar attacks;
  7. To work and campaign for the withholding or cessation of foreign military aid and a review of trade agreements with the Philippines vis-a-vis respect for human rights and the accountability of violators;
  8. To endorse the pending communications before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity against President Duterte and to send a delegation and ask an audience with the Office of the Prosecutor on the matter;
  9. To support all actions and submit reports in relation to the July 2019 UN Human Rights Council Resolution 41/2 on the comprehensive human rights situation in the Philippines; and
  10. 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.

Brussels, 10 November 2019