Press Release
July 29, 2019

De Lima: UN probe a must amid gov't's lack of interest in probing EJKs

Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored the need for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to independently investigate the human rights abuses in the country amid the administration's lack of interest in probing the killings under its watch.

In her Rappler opinion piece "How to stop the Duterte killing machine" dated July 12, De Lima stressed that the lack of any serious domestic investigation into the human rights abuses and rampant killings makes the UNHRC-led inquiry more paramount.

"Why do the killings continue? It is simply because no one is actually stopping them. There has been no political, moral, and legal compulsion to halt the bloodbath. Domestically, the Philippine legal system is largely unreliable to expect the arrest, investigation, and prosecution of those behind the EJKs," she said.

"I have pointed out the absence of legal remedies in our local justice system, as cogently shown in the lack of serious investigation. Any avenue for such a process has been effectively blocked, or simply met with indifference from relevant government authorities in the Philippines," she added.

According to her, UNHRC-led probe will serve "as a measure of justice to the Filipino people and a tool of necessity to prove that resort to UN mechanisms and processes remains viable for our people" following the country's pullout from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

De Lima, the staunchest critic of Duterte's sham drug war and human rights abuses, recalled that in 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) admitted that it was only able to investigate 71 cases while only 19 reached the courts for prosecution.

The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), for its part, observed the government's lack of genuine effort to investigate and arrest the assailants behind the killings based on the initial batch of cases that it reviewed last April.

De Lima said she is convinced that UN-led probe can serve as the much-needed legal, political, and moral instrument to stop Duterte's killing machine that has claimed the lives thousands of Filipinos under the guise of his sham war against illegal drugs.

"What best deters crime is the certainty, swiftness, and thoroughness of the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of wrongdoers. This is proven by all reputable studies in criminology and criminal justice," De Lima said.

The lady Senator from Bicol has repeatedly urged the UN and the UNHRC to sanction an independent probe into the rampant killings under the Duterte administration in her messages for the International Human Rights Day in 2017 and 2018.

In two separate letters to UNHRC members, De Lima also pointed out the absence of legal remedies in the country's local justice system to address the thousands of killings.

De Lima's persistent calls to the UNHRC has finally paid off as the human rights body adopted a resolution calling for a comprehensive international review of the Philippine government's all-out war on drugs that resulted in the death of thousands of suspected drug offenders.

However, the Duterte government has continued to reject the Iceland-led UNHRC resolution, saying that allowing the body to investigate domestic affairs is tantamount to unnecessary interference by foreign entities.

Even in her unjust and illegal detention for trumped-up charges filed by the administration, De Lima has remained vocal against the unabated spate of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses in the country.

Touted as the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, De Lima has repeatedly and consistently maintained her innocence from the sham charges filed by the administration using coerced and perjured witnesses.

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