Posted by: nupl | November 11, 2007

Lawyers form union to defend human rights, civil liberties

September 10, 2007

Press Release

Human rights lawyers across the country have decided to form a union to defend basic human rights and civil liberties of the people against what they called “unstoppable extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of progressive party list members, activists, community organizers, human rights defenders, church people, lawyers and other interested parties critical of the present administration and the military establishment.”

Organizers of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said over 150 human rights lawyers, para-legal workers and law students in their individual and organizational capacities will use their education, training and experience and given time their services and commitment to defend the rights of the people in the national and international arena.

“The horrible state of human rights and the continuing of killings, disappearances, tortures, massacres, illegal arrests and detention, filing of false charges for political reasons and violations have created a need for a more organized approach to the rendering of legal services,” the lawyers’ group said.

The NUPL added: “There has been an unprecedented increase in violations of human rights, and the brazenness, brutality and impunity by which they are being perpetrated by the military, police, paramilitary groups and death squads under the command, control, inducement or tolerance of the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have reached alarming proportions.”

The lawyers’ group noted that the serial deaths have reached almost 900 cold-blooded murders, almost 200 disappeared, scores of others illegally arrested or unjustly detained while violent dispersals of public assemblies critical of the government of its policies, threats, harassments and hamletting of villages and the filing of false charges against dissenters continue with shameless impunity.

The NUPL said these condemnable violations are viewed as having a causal link between the consuming desire of the present administration to hold on to power despite serious questions of legitimacy, the bad governance, the bleak social conditions and economic situation, and the imposition and intervention of foreign governments and giant multinational corporations and institutions that result in the reversal of the gains the people have won in their assertion of democratic rights and freedom.

 

Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, one of the preparatory committee members of the NUPL said the union is intended to be a unified long term organizational expression and identity of what may broadly and collectively known as human rights lawyers.

“The NUPL shall serve primarily as a mechanism for collaboration, coordination and facilitation of their legal services in the national and international levels. It shall serve also as a venue for advocacy on legal and patriotic issues in order to serve the people even more effectively and efficiently and to blunt and eventually defeat malicious, erroneous and politically motivated legal offensives and extrajudicial and illegal moves of the authorities. The NUPL shall help seek redress against the use of governmental powers against the interests of the poor,” Colmenares added.

Part of NUPL’s legal intervention include the rendition of concrete, specific, prompt and competent legal services to victims of violations of civil liberties and political freedoms as well as economic, social and cultural rights of the poor and the oppressed; prepare, file, prosecute and pursue to the end all kinds of cases, complaints, investigations, lobbying against suspected perpetrators of such violations especially notorious, incorrigible, remorseless members of the state security forces.

Colmenares said the NUPL shall maximize and rationalize the practical use of existing judicial, quasi-judicial and other legal for a and remedies in the national and international levels including mechanisms arising out of the peace process for the defense, protection and promotion of human rights.

The NUPL shall also campaign, advocate and lobby for these liberties, freedom and rights in the national as well as regional and sectoral levels as well as to assert national sovereignty, share concrete experiences in handling human rights cases, provide venues for professional and political development and come up with specific recommendations and mechanisms to help ensure the defense, promotion and protection of human rights and the substantially contribute to the removal of impunity given to state security forces.

Colmenares also said NUPL will campaign for the protection and welfare of lawyers who are under threat and attack by virtue of the exercise of the profession especially those involved in human rights practice as well as the welfare of the families of lawyers who have been killed or attack.

The NUPL said it will promote human rights lawyering as a viable professional alternative and link up, establish and maintain professional and solidarity linkages with other national and international groups or organization of lawyers.

The new lawyers’ group is set to hold its first national general assembly on September 15-16 in Cebu City. Expected to attend or send message of support are Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, noted human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong, Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo, Senators Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal and former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona Jr.

The NUPL first general assembly enjoys the support and international endorsements of established international lawyers’ groups such as Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers without Borders, Progress Lawyers Network, International Association of People’s Lawyers and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. #

For Reference: Atty. Neri Colmenares, NUPL preparatory committee member

 

 

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