"Caravana Filipina" reports on investigation into the condition of Filipino lawyers and judges

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“Caravana Filipina,” a group of lawyers, made public today, June 14, its study on the widespread attacks against Filipino lawyers, prosecutors and judges since 2016. “Caravana Filipina” is an international delegation which conducted a 10-day investigation and gathered accounts from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The report was launched in line with the International Fair Trial Day (IFTD) which is commemorated annually by the legal professio to raise public awareness regarding the importance of fair trial and the rule of law. Every year, lawyers worldwide choose to focus on issues related to fair trial in their respective countries. They chose the Philippines for 2024.

“The Philippines has long been recognized as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for legal professionals,” according to Herman Verbeek, a lawyer from the Netherlands and representative of the Foundation of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. Caravana Filipina has documented unprecedented attacks on the legal profession, the culture of impunity and climate of fear, Red-tagging and suppression of the freedom of expression.

Data from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said that there have been 94 cases of political assassinations of lawyers, prosecutors and judges since September 2007. The majority of these (63) occurred between July 2018 and June 2024. Many of these cases remain unresolved until now.

These cases include the killing of Atty. Ben Ramos in Negros, and attempted assassination of Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen in Iloilo. Both lawyers are known for their human rights advocacy, and both were maliciously linked to the New People’s Army before the attacks.

International lawyers have stressed the need for serious implementation of decisions beneficial to lawyers, such as the Supreme Court’s recent decision against Red-tagging. They also recommended the repeal of the Anti-Terror Act, which has intensified threats and attacks on lawyers and other sectors of civil society.

In addition to highlighting the issues of fair trial and the situation of lawyers and judges in a country, IFTD also bestow the Ebru Timik Award to honor individuals and organizations that advocate the promotion of the right to a fair trial. This award is named after Turkish human rights lawyer Ebru Timik, who died in 2020 during a protest fast against unfair trials in her country.

AB: "Caravana Filipina" reports on investigation into the condition of Filipino lawyers and judges