Impunity for rights violations scored anew in international legal forum

Rights lawyers group formed to push for release of political prisoners worldwide

The continuing impunity for various human rights violations in the Philippines was scored anew before an international forum of human rights lawyers and law students. The event was also attended by around 200 progressives, social activists, peasants, workers, academicians, artists, and other human rights defenders in Lima, Peru.

The 21-22 November 2013 forum was sponsored by the Moviminento por Amnistia y Derechos Fundamentales (MOVADEF) and Instituto de Asesoria e Investigacion Juridica (Ratio Iuris). Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Edre U. Olalia as first speaker presented a paper entitled “Impunity for Violations of Human Rights and International Law Through the Legal and Judicial System: The Philippine Experience.”

The participants in the forum entitled “Criminalization of People’s Struggles in Peru and Around the World” initiated the formation of a new International Committee of lawyers to work for the release of political prisoners in Peru, Turkey, Philippines, and other parts of the world.

It elected  the officers of the Committee, namely: renowned international lawyer and law professor Peter Erlinder  (US) as Chair;  Alfredo Crespo (Peru), a counsel of political prisoner Dr. Abimael Guzman; Olalia (Philippines), also a counsel of former political prisoner Prof. Jose Maria Sison; Eduardo Soares (Argentina) of General de Abogados; and Mazlum Dinc (Turkey), a counsel of political prisoner Abdullah Ocalan, as members. Lawyers from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico also participated in the event.

Members of the Committee visited Elena Iparraguire and women political prisoners in a penal facility in Chorrillos, Lima. They denounced, however, the summary denial  by the Instituto Nacional Penitenciario of their written request  to visit Dr. Guzman who has been in solitary confinement for twenty years in a maximum security facility in Centro de Reclusion de la Base naval (CEREC).  The request was based on applicable Peruvian law, international law and on humanitarian grounds. The authorities did  not provide any reason at all for the denial.

The Committee is considering attending the 6th Congress of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) in Brazil in February 2014 and the 18th Congress of the UN-accredited International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in Belgium in April 2014 to push for the release of political prisoners worldwide, among others.

Olalia said that the formation of the new Committee is important and relevant to the struggle of NUPL’s clients and said its activities shall certainly be taken up in the 3rd NUPL Congress in Bacolod this 30 November to 1 December. Around 200 human rights lawyers, law students, paralegals, and local and international guests are expected to attend the assembly with the theme: “Consolidate our Ranks to Defend, Protect and Advance the People’s Rights, Resist the State’s Various Schemes to Violate Human Rights.”

Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Secretary General

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