Attacks against lawyers in the Philippines

Who we wrote to

The government of the Philippines. We co-signed the letter with 151 international and domestic bar associations, other lawyers’ organisations and legal professionals from 49 countries around the world.

What’s the issue

We’re deeply concerned over the increasing attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and the oppressive working environment they’ve faced since the start of President Duterte’s administration.

Since the president took office on 30 June 2016, the number and intensity of attacks against lawyers have increased significantly.

At least 41 lawyers and prosecutors were killed between July 2016 and September 2019, including 24 practising lawyers. At least five judges and retired judges have been murdered in the same period. Eight jurists survived attacks on their life.

Lawyers are also harassed and intimidated. They’re subjected to death threats, surveillance, labelling and other forms of attacks.

Most killings and attacks of lawyers took place as a result of discharging professional duties or are believed to be work-related.

The attacks and extrajudicial killings of lawyers, prosecutors, members of the judiciary and other human rights defenders in the Philippines have occurred within the context of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ and are being carried out across the country in an apparent climate of institutional impunity.

What we asked for

We called on the government of the Philippines to:

  • take all necessary measures to stop the attacks against and extrajudicial killings of lawyers
  • end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur

We urged the Duterte government to:

  • adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers in accordance with the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers
  • take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings
  • carry out independent investigations and hold perpetrators to account