“The international community finds the filing of dubious and legally untenable charges against the Tiamzon couple as violative of basic criminal law principles and is not only a threat to the peace process but also to due process rights recognized by all civilized nations.” – Edre U. Olalia, NUPL secretary general
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – An international organization of lawyers joined the call for the release of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria and for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP.
More than 200 lawyers, judges and legal luminaries from 56 countries who attended the 18th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in Brussels, Belgium called for a stop to political repression and persecution in the Philippines, and the release of all political prisoners “in pursuit of a just and lasting peace” in the Philippines.
Twelve members of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), a member-organization of the IADL, joined other delegates from Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa and Oceania in the recently concluded IADL Congress.
“Peace activists everywhere are registering their indignation over the arrest and persecution of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria and other peace consultants, which have seriously imperiled peace talks of the Philippine government with the NDFP,” Edre U. Olalia, NUPL secretary general who was re-elected to the IADL governing bureau, said. “The international community finds the filing of dubious and legally untenable charges against the Tiamzon couple as violative of basic criminal law principles and is not only a threat to the peace process but also to due process rights recognized by all civilized nations.”
The delegates urged the Philippine government to release consultants of peace negotiations and all other political prisoners in compliance with the agreements of the parties, as well as basic principles of international law.
The delegates also expressed concern over the “intensifying political repression” and human rights violations committed by the Aquino administration.
“The Philippine government has been increasingly intolerant of ‘enemies of the state’ and stifles dissent and protests against anti-people policies. Those who speak out and contest its human rights record are ignored, vilified, jailed or even killed,” the petition read, a copy of which was sent to Bulatlat.com by NUPL.
“With these IADL resolutions, reports and petition by hundreds of lawyers, judges, law professors and law students from a huge number of countries, the lack of respect for basic democratic right in the Philippines has further been brought within the radar of the international community,” Bayan Muna Representative and NUPL President Neri Javier Colmenares, who was unanimously elected to the highest governing Bureau of the IADL, said. “Where the persecution of political prisoners heightens the pain of our Lenten suffering, international solidarity is a fitting cap for a time of hope for just and lasting peace,” he said.
IADL counts among its members international lawyers associations such as the Japanese Lawyers International Solidarity Organisation, All India Democratic Lawyers Association, Arab Lawyers Union, Progress Lawyers Network of Belgium, Droit Solidarite of France, Giuristi Democratici of Italy, the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers of the United Kingdom, American Association of Jurists, Lawyers Rights Watch of Canada, and the National Lawyers Guild of the United States.
The IADL, which paid tribute to its President Emeritus Nelson Mandela and to NUPL founding chairman Romeo T. Capulong, is an association of progressive lawyers that uses and aims to change the legal landscape to promote peoples’ struggles all over the world. It has a consultative status with the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).