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Lack of accountability for the killing of lawyers in the Philippines

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Lack of accountability for the killing of lawyers in the Philippines

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The Law Society of England and Wales has issued a grave warning regarding the alarming culture of impunity surrounding attacks on lawyers in the Philippines

This statement comes as the Law Society concludes its fact-finding mission on the targeting of legal professionals in the country.

Law Society vice president, Richard Atkinson, said: “The number of lawyers that have been harassed, threatened and killed is of grave concern. What is especially distressing is the lack of accountability for these attacks.

“In the last 16 years, at least 271 incidents of work-related attacks on Filipino lawyers and judges have been recorded, including 90 killings.**

“Perpetrators of these attacks are not held accountable, as targeted lawyers are publicly designated as enemies of the state and face arbitrary charges of terrorism. It seems that this dangerous labelling of lawyers is the primary reason for the high rate of killings in the Philippines.

“By preventing lawyers from undertaking their duties freely, the Filipino government obstructs justice.

“We call on the government of the Philippines to abide by international norms and support the rule of law by respecting the role of lawyers in society. We also demand that perpetrators of violence against lawyers face consequences for their actions.

“Accountability is a critical requisite for justice. We will continue to monitor the treatment of lawyers in the Philippines and ensure that justice is served.”

The Law Society's fact-finding mission, 'Caravana Filipina', was conducted from 4 to 13 June 2024. The mission involved 12 delegates from eight legal organisations dedicated to supporting lawyers at risk, aiming to gather evidence on the dire conditions faced by legal professionals in the Philippines.

Richard Atkinson emphasised the need for the Philippine government to respect international norms and uphold the rule of law: “We call on the government of the Philippines to abide by international norms and support the rule of law by respecting the role of lawyers in society. We also demand that perpetrators of violence against lawyers face consequences for their actions. Accountability is a critical requisite for justice. We will continue to monitor the treatment of lawyers in the Philippines and ensure that justice is served.”

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