Keeping Senator De Lima in prison without charge is unacceptable, say DROI Chair Panzeri and MEP Post
In light of Senator Leila De Lima’s first year of detention, MEP Soraya Post, who headed the Human Rights Subcommittee delegation to the Philippines in July 2017, stated:
"February 24 2018 will mark Senator Leila De Lima’s first year of detention at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila, where she remains to this day without due judicial process to prove her supposed crimes".
"One year on from her arrest, as the Philippines judicial authorities have failed to sentence her for alleged crimes, there is substantial reason to believe that her arrest is politically motivated and based on her criticism of human rights violations and President Duterte’s policy on the war on drugs".
MEP Soraya Post (S&D, SE), who headed the DROI delegation to the Philippines in July 2017, visited Senator De Lima at the National Police detention centre on that occasion and reiterated the principle of the presumption of innocence. Soraya Post called on the authorities of the Philippines to guarantee a fair trial to the Senator and to let her fulfil a senator's duties including voting in the Senate.
Soraya Post said, “A year after our visit, the situation has not changed for Senator Leila De Lima. She has not been convicted or released. As a parliamentarian, I condemn the apparently politically motivated detention of Senator Leila de Lima, whom I consider to be a symbol for human rights defenders. I therefore call on the government of the Philippines to convict or release her. Keeping Ms De Lima in prison without charge is unacceptable and constitutes a serious violation of human rights. I strongly condemn the misogynistic and violent language used by President Duterte. His 'war on drugs' has now also turned into a war against women; there is no place for this in our societies”.
The issue of drug-related extra-judicial killings is probably the most notorious human rights violation in the Philippines. Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT), Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights has also expressed concern about the violation of human rights in the Philippines and has called for light to be shed on the issue of drug-related extrajudicial killings. He reiterated the European Parliament’s call for the establishment of an independent international investigation under the auspices of the UN, into unlawful killings and other violations.
A four-member delegation from the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) led by Soraya Post (S&D, SE) and composed of Ádám Kósa (EPP, HU), Josef Weidenholzer (S&D, AT) and Rikke Karlsson (ECR, DK) visited the Philippines from 18-20 July 2017.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution in March 2017 calling an immediate release of Senator Leila De Lima.