Worldwide lawyers’ group supports charges vs Duterte in int’l courts

A worldwide group of lawyers backed plans to file potential suits against President Rodrigo Duterte abroad “for violations of international human rights law.”

Fifty lawyers of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in a resolution said they support plans to study the filing of cases in different countries “against Duterte and all those responsible for the killings, torture and other grievous violations of international law utilizing the principles of universal jurisdiction.”

The IADL passed the resolution during its Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium last November 8 to 10.

IADL Council meeting delegates vote on the resolution on the Philippines (NUPL photo)

The group said it resolved “to support all actions and submit reports in relation to the July 2019 UN HRC (United National Human Rights Council) Resolution 41/2 on the comprehensive human rights situation in the Philippines.”

The group, which counts veteran defense lawyers in the International Criminal Court (ICC), also endorsed the charges of crimes against humanity against President Duterte before the ICC.

The IADL said it plans to send a delegation to the ICC and ask an audience with the Office of the Prosecutor on cases filed against the Philippine president.

IADL members also vowed to “work and campaign for the withholding or cessation of foreign military aid and a review of trade agreements with the Philippines vis-a-vis respect for human rights and the accountability of violators.”

The group—which has progressive and democratic lawyers, jurists, law professors, judges, prosecutors and law student members in 80 countries worldwide—also promised “to conduct or support international fact finding missions into those attacks and killings and to urge the Philippine Government to cooperate and allow them entry into the country.”

The IADL has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) and actively engages in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as well as parallel platforms in New York and Vienna.

Founded in 1947, the group has the late freedom icon Nelson Mandela as honorary chair.

Meanwhile, in the same council meeting, a Filipino human rights lawyer was elected as president of one of the most prestigious lawyer’s group in the world.

Filipino human rights lawyer

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer (NUPL) president Edre Olalia was elected as transitional IADL president until the group’s next regular congress in 2020.

Atty Edre Olalia at the IADL council meeting that elected him as transitional president. (NUPL photo)

Olalia had been a member of the IADL governing bureau together since 2010, along with NUPL chairperson Neri Colmenares.

Olalia’s term as transitional president ends in November next year when the next IADL Congress is held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

His presidency may be potentially confirmed for a period until 2023, the group said.

“I hope it inspires even more people’s lawyers to just keep on the good fight despite the odds and encourage others to consider this as a meaningful option beyond one’s self,” Olalia said of his election.

Present in the council meeting were 50 lawyers representing 30 nations, namely Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Columbia, France, Greece, Haiti, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Philipines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Western Sahara. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)