Lack of accountability for the killing of lawyers in the Philippines

The Law Society of England and Wales warns of the concerning culture of impunity in regards to attacks on lawyers in the Philippines.

This warning comes as the Law Society concludes a fact-finding mission on the targeting of lawyers in the Philippines today (13 June).*

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.”

Notes to editors

*The fact-finding mission was titled ‘Caravana Filipina’ and lasted between 4 and 13 June 2024. It included 12 delegates from eight legal organisations, which support lawyers at risk. A public statement of evidence collected by the delegation during its fact-finding mission is available upon request.

**59 of these assassinations occurred between July 2016 and July 2022, during President Duterte's term in office. Four more have occurred since then.

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