Posted by: nupl | November 11, 2007

NUPL CONDEMNS INCLUSION OF LAWYERS AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN “TERRORIST LISTING”: Demands Administrative and Criminal Sanctions against those Responsible

(UPDATE) Read Commentary: Manila sees human rights lawyers as ‘terrorists’ by Gerry Albert Corpuz, published in United Press International Asia Online, October 3, 2007.

 

*****

October 1, 2007

Press Release

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) expresses serious concern over the issuance of a secret “blacklist” by the Arroyo administration barring more than 500 individuals, human rights advocates, and activists worldwide — including at least 20 prominent human rights lawyers and the former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark — from entering the Philippines on the spurious claim of links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. This mindless inclusion of foreigners in what is actually a “Terrorist Listing” disguised as a hold departure order brings to the fore well grounded concerns on how the government will implement the anti-terrorism law known as the Human Security Act.

This latest act against lawyers is a violation of The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime [1990] which states in Section 16 that:

 

Section 16. Governments shall ensure that lawyers

(a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference x x x and

(c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

 

The NUPL points to the inclusion in the blacklist of all the European lawyers and judges who participated in the June 2006 fact-finding mission which investigated the escalating attacks against Filipino lawyers and judges: Judge Jan Bless, Atty. Gerard Boot, Atty. Jo Dereymaeker, Atty. Hein Karskens, Atty. Judith Lichtenberg, Atty. Angela Meijer, Atty. Adrie van de Streek, and Judge Nol Vermolen.

This international fact-finding mission (IFFM) was organized by the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation and supported by the Netherlands Bar Association, the Amsterdam Bar Association and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), and hosted by the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL). The published report of the IFFM, “From Facts to Action: Report on the Attacks against Filipino Lawyers and Judges” has subsequently been cited in the reports of several human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

“During the IFFM, these European lawyers and judges, in the interest of fairly and objectively conducting their fact-finding mission, had long meetings with then Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno, DOJ Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno, the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the AFP, incoming PNP Chief Avelino Razon, then Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senator Francis Pangilinan, several members of Congress and other prominent officials in the Philippine government. While it seems preposterous to suggest that these government officials had met lawyers and judges with links to Al-Qaeda, that unfortunately is exactly what this blacklist is suggesting,” said Atty. Neri Colmenares, newly-elected Secretary General of the NUPL.

The NUPL also condemns the deportation of Atty. Brian Campbell of the Washington-based International Labor Rights Fund because of the blacklist and its inclusion of other prominent human rights lawyers such as Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Atty. Lennox Hinds, Atty. Tina Monshipour Foster of the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, Atty. Rachel Lederman, Atty. Merrilyn Onisko, Atty. Vanessa Lucas of the US National Lawyers Guild, Atty. Jill Soffiyah Elijah of Harvard Law School, Atty. David Pugh, Atty. Mathew Parham, Atty. Blanche Coil, Atty. Hakan Harakus and many more colleagues from the legal profession abroad.

Lawyers cannot be harassed merely for expression of dissent or associating with dissenters. The blacklisting is a form of harassment against lawyers in violation of Sec. 23 of the UN’s Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers to wit:

Section 23. Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. x x x

The blacklist, supposedly lifted by Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez recently, is one more proof of the danger posed by the implementation of the Human Security Act. This could be a prelude to a similar listing of dissenters under the anti-terrorism law.

The NUPL asks Pres. Gloria Arroyo and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo to investigate how the blacklist was formulated and the basis of the listing. The NUPL further demands administrative and even criminal sanctions against those found responsible in the erroneous blacklisting to the prejudice and injury of many of those in the list. #

Reference: Atty. Neri Colmenares—Secretary General

 

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