The IADL said that the military’s red tagging of NUPL contradicts Article 16 of the Basic Principles, which mandates governments to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — An international association of lawyers denounced the Philippines military’s red tagging of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).
In a resolution, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) branded Maj. Gen Antonio Parlade, Jr.’s statement linking the NUPL with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples’ Army as “irresponsible, slanderous and legally punishable.”
“This unsupported claim without any specific and verifiable evidence that is reliable and credible exposes the human rights lawyers and the clients that they are defending to grave danger,” the resolution, adopted during the recent meeting of the IADL Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, read. Lawyers from Algiers, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, France, Haiti, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, United States, and Vietnam attended the said meeting.
The IADL called on the Philippine military to immediately cease and desist casting aspersions on the NUPL and the human rights lawyers and let them do their work and advocacy unhampered by such labelling.
The IADL, which has consultative status as an NGO with the United Nations, pointed out that the red tagging of the NUPL violates UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. It cited Article 18 which states, “Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their client’s causes as a result of discharging their functions.” Doing so, the group said, would deprive the people of their access to justice and basic right to counsel guaranteed by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The group added that such hate speech may also constitute a violation of Article 20 prohibiting advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. It further said that the red-tagging contradicts Article 16 of the Basic Principles which mandates governments to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.”
The IADL said it fully supports all legal actions and recourse in various domestic and international fora to make those responsible for these attacks accountable.
The IADL doubted the veracity of the accusations made by Parlade, noting that the NUPL has defended the rights and welfare, not only of the people in the Philippines but other oppressed peoples in other countries. It also commended the long track record of the NUPL in defending pro bono the economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights of various persons and organizations.
In a separate statement, NUPL President Edre Olalia decried Parlade’s labeling, saying it has put their members in even more danger. “It is not only absolutely baseless in fact, it does not legally hold water at all,” Olalia said.
To date, at least 36 lawyers, judges and prosecutors have been killed since Duterte assumed office. An international mission revealed that the suspected perpetrators include state security forces or their agents.
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The IADL also vowed to get the broadest support of various legal organizations worldwide in putting a stop to these “vicious attacks on our colleagues.”