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APF expresses deep concern for Senator Leila de Lima

Graphic: Leila de Lima at the 2009 APF Annual Meeting in 2009

The APF has called for Senator Leila de Lima’s fundamental human rights to be fully respected as she contests drug-related charges brought against her


The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) calls on the Government of the Philippines to ensure that Senator Leila de Lima's fundamental human rights are fully respected as she contests drug-related charges brought against her by the Department of Justice.

Senator de Lima was the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines from May 2008 to June 2010.

She served in the position with distinction and integrity, winning the respect of all who met her and worked with her, including her fellow Commissioners, staff and victims of human rights violations.

Senator de Lima has recently been a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's “war on drugs", which has featured allegations and reports of thousands of extra-judicial killings.

She was arrested on 24 February 2017 and charged with violating section 5 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which prohibits the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs". In effect, she is accused of orchestrating a drug-trafficking ring when she was Secretary of Justice from 2010 to 2015.

Under these charges, Senator de Lima is unable to apply for bail and will be held in detention pending her trial. If convicted, she could be sentenced for between 12 years and life in prison.

As a membership-based organisation of 24 national human rights institutions from across the Asia Pacific, the APF is concerned that Senator de Lima's rights are fully respected throughout the course of the judicial process.

As with all persons before the law, Senator de Lima has the right to the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.

The APF is concerned that there has been extensive public commentary from high-level government officials about the case which has the potential to seriously undermine those rights.

Senator de Lima is entitled to full respect for her human rights at this time, just as she advocated respect for the human rights of all Filipinos during her tenure as the Commission's Chairperson.

Mr Jamsran Byambadorj

Chairperson, Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions
Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia


Image credits

  1. Leila de Lima at the 2009 APF Annual Meeting in 2009 - APF/James Iliffe