Posted by: nupl | November 11, 2007

14 International Lawyers’ groups express support to RP human rights lawyers; Human rights lawyers become endangered species under GMA- Atty. Capulong

September 15, 2007
Press Release

Fourteen international lawyers groups have expressed support to the newly formed National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), organizers of the lawyers’ association said on Saturday.

The NUPL said Progress Lawyers Network (PLN) of Belgium, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Action (JALISA), Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), Dutch Lawyers without Borders (LWB), International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of the United States, the Lawyers Rights Watch (LRW) of Canada, the Acilim Law Office of Turkey, the People’s Lawyers Nucleus of Brazil, the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, the Japanese Environmental Legal Foundation (JELP), and the Human Rights Now of Japan, and lawyers from Australia fully support the work of NUPL work in defending the human rights and civil liberties of the Filipino people.

“The international communities of lawyers all over the United States, Europe and Asia are comprehensively exposed to the unprecedented increase in violations of human rights in the country, as well as the brazenness, brutality and impunity by which they are perpetrated by state security forces under the present administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” the lawyers group said.

The NUPL added: “International lawyers working for the protection of human rights, civil liberties and people’s rights and welfare are so concerned about the seemingly unstoppable extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances not only of progressive party list members, activists and community organizers, human rights defenders and rural people, but also of journalists, doctors and lawyers.”

In a statement of solidarity read before about 130 lawyers and about 20 law students and paralegal workers attending the NUPL founding congress in Cebu City starting today until Sunday, the Brussels-based PLN said “ it is pleased to see civil rights lawyers, human rights lawyers and people’s lawyers uniting themselves under the NUPL banner.”

PLN member and Belgian lawyer Atty. Jo Dereymaker said the world needs committed lawyers to unite themselves and use their legal skills and expertise to protect the fundamental rights and liberties, and to offer the best defense for the victims and those striving for a change that benefits the people.

“In the Philippines, it has become very dangerous to be a human rights lawyer, to stand by activists, unionists, farmers and indigenous people in their opposition to the current economic and political situation,” she said.

“Lawyers and paralegals themselves are victims of surveillance, serious harassment and intimidation in the exercise of their profession. Too big a number of them are threatened with death, or even worse, killed,” the Belgian lawyer added.

For his part, Prof. Osamu Niikura, Deputy Secretary General of the IADL said many lawyers in Japan, South and North Korea, and Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and East Timor are willing to get in touch with the Filipino lawyers to share their concerns and problems regarding the status of human rights and civil liberties in their respective countries.

The Tokyo-based human rights lawyer said the IADL will be actively involved in the Philippines through the NUPL in support of people’s lawyering and unyielding commitment to defend people’s democratic rights and welfare, as well as the rights and welfare of Filipino lawyers currently under attack from enemies of human rights and civil liberties.

GMA in political paranoia makes human rights lawyers endangered species

Human rights lawyers defending the political and civil rights of the people have become endangered species under an administration suffering from a disease known as paranoia for political survival.

Former United Nation’s Ad Litem Judge, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and noted human rights lawyer Atty. Romeo Capulong said human rights lawyers defending political rights and civil liberties of the poor, like their clients are under attack from the military dictatorship of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“During the periods of repression and crackdown, human rights lawyers were often considered by the government as frontline combatants with their clients and fair targets of extrajudicial execution, enforced disappearances, political persecution, surveillance and various forms of harassment,” Atty. Capulong said.

Capulong said human rights lawyers and people’s lawyers are up against the systematic policy where responsibility goes all the way up to the Commander-in-Chief, the US as her principal, the highest decision-makers of the political hierarchy and military establishment.

Capulong likewise blasted President Arroyo over what he referred to as the systematic cover up and whitewash in various forms, to impunity that necessarily follows when there is a deliberate scheme to protect and coddle the perpetrators, to the killings, kidnapping and intimidation of the surviving victims, their next of kins and witnesses, to scapegoating and framing of innocent people, to the fabrication of charges and evidence, manipulation of and misuse of Department of Justice and its public prosecutors and the judiciary no less, in some cases, like in the case of Batasan 6 and the resort to blatant lies insult the collective intelligence of human rights lawyers, their clients and the Filipino people in general.

“The political beliefs and activities of our clients are imputed to us. And there’s actually nothing wrong with this. Appropriately, we are the people’s lawyers in the true sense of the word because we take side of the victims, the great majority of our people composed mostly of peasants, fisherfolks, workers, Bangsa Moro people and indigenous Filipinos in their struggles to assert their sectoral rights and in their aspirations for national sovereignty and just peace,” he added.

Keynoting the founding congress of the lawyers group National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) in Cebu City, which is scheduled today until tomorrow and attended by 150 human rights lawyers, paralegal workers and law students, Capulong noted that human rights lawyers and people’s lawyers are very few compared to those engaged in other fields or general practice. At present count, the human rights lawyer said the number of human rights lawyers all over the country has not reached five percent of the total number of Filipino lawyers.

“The ratio of human rights lawyers in other countries is true. And yet, our human rights lawyers’ clients here comprise 90 percent of the population, mostly the disenfranchised and the marginalized sectors,” Capulong said.

Capulong added: “The challenge to us is not only to increase our ranks by encouraging more lawyers, especially the young ones and law students to become human rights lawyers, labor lawyers, environmental lawyers and similar pro-poor oriented practice. More importantly, the bigger challenge to us is to develop lawyering for the people as a viable alternative field of law practice.” #

For reference: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, NUPL Preparatory Committee Member

 

 

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