Letter: A Statement of Solidarity to Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines

Lawyers Are Often Victims When Defending Human Rights

We, the undersigned, wish to express concern and disgust regarding the brazen attacks on human rights defenders in the Philippines.

We strongly condemn the recent killing of Atty Benjamin Ramos, founding member and former Secretary General of National Union of People’s Lawyers. On Nov. 6 2018, he was gunned down by two unidentified gunmen in Negros Occidental, Philippines.

Ramos provided pro-bono services to peasants, workers, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations. He was the co-counsel for the families of nine sugar farm workers slain in Hacienda Nene, Sagay City, Negros Occidental on Oct. 20, 2018. He was also representing six young activists arrested by the military, who maliciously linked them to the New People’s Army.

Because of his human rights work, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police accused him of colluding with communist rebels. Ramos is the ninth lawyer killed in the Philippines this year.

Thirty-four lawyers have been killed in the Philippines over the two year reign of President Rodrigo Duterte, including judges and prosecutors, according to NUPL. These killings of members of the legal community comes as President Duterte’s war on drugs, war on terror, war on women and war on the poor counts its victims in the thousands.

Lawyers play a crucial role in upholding the fundamental rights of the people. They also protect the pillars of democracy as they facilitate the administration of justice. In the Philippines, human rights lawyers defend the marginalized and the defenseless. To kill a human rights lawyer is an obvious attempt to silence those who speak for the unheard and the voiceless. It is an attempt to deter lawyers and members of the legal profession to fulfill their roles as guardians of justice.

In the context of the intensifying human rights violations committed with impunity in the Philippines, it is timely that we, as members of the legal community in Canada and other concerned organizations, show our solidarity and unwavering support for human rights defenders in the Philippines. We urge the Canadian government to halt funding and cooperation, directly or indirectly, with the AFP, the PNP and other organizations who have been linked to human rights violations in the Philippines.

Association des juristes progressistes, Québec
McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism
Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
International Association of People’s Lawyers
Centre for Philippine Concerns
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
Nandini Ramanujam, McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism
Kirsten Anker, law professor, McGill University
Stuart Russell, lawyer (Ret.)
May Chiu, lawyer, Montreal
Hannah Deegan, lawyer, Montreal
Kate Forrest, lawyer, Montreal
Diana Sitoianu, lawyer, Montréal
Dominique Caouette, Political Science Professor, Université de Montréal
Radha De Souza, law professor, University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Gill Boehringer, former Dean, School of Law, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Chris Albinati, lawyer, PhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
Kareem Ibrahim, graduate law student, University of British Columbia
Justine Blair, student at law
Jeff Li, student-at-law
Deborah Guterman, student-at-law
Renz Grospe, Anakbayan Canada, student, École du Barreau du Québec
Alexander Agnello, law student, McGill University
Alicia Blimkie, law student, McGill University
Sydney Lang, law student, McGill University
Angèle Poupard, law student, McGill University
Emilie Duchesne, law student, McGill University
Julianna Duholke, law student, McGill University
Alessa Dassios, law student, McGill University
Megan Lindy, law student, McGill University
Kerry Ann Marcotte, law student, McGill University
Alix Génier, law student, McGill University
Jan Nato, law student, McGill University
Noémie Ducret, law student, McGill University
Adelise Lalande, law student, McGill University
Christina Tzovanis Manolias, law student, McGill University
Sophie Doyle, law student, McGill University
Bayan Canada
Anakbayan Canada
Migrante Canada
Centre d’appui aux Philippines/Centre for Philippine Concerns
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
Kasama McGill
Kagawasan Liberation
Quebec Public Interest Research Group, McGill University
Black Law Students’ Association of McGill
Jozef Fleury-Berthiaume, ancien responsable de projet international aux Philippines, ONG Quinoa
Séverine de Laveleye : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Marie De Vroey: ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Eric Petitjean : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Fatima Biberian : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Hélène Baquet : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Irene Garlanda : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Damien Charles : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Porzia Stella : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Jeanne Babar : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Pauline Forges : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Camille Roufiange : ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Hélène Debaisieux: Présidente de l’ONG Quinoa – Belgium
Margot Ehrlich-chargee de mission centres sociaux-France