Philippine lawyers to raise rights issues in international lawyers’ conference

Human rights lawyers from the Philippines from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) will attend the 18th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) from 15 to 19 April 2014 in Brussels, Belgium.

More than 500 delegates from 50 countries consisting of lawyers, judges, magistrates, academics, law students, and representatives from various sectors are expected to attend the five-day Congress to be held at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel with the theme “Lawyering for People’s Rights.”

Plenary speakers at the Brussels Congress include M. Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women; Samir Amin, co-founder of the World Social Forum; Michael Ratner, President of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights; Kumi Naido, International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, among others. Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, deputy minority leader of the Philippine House of Representatives, will talk about impunity in the Philippines and human rights issues.

The 12-member Philippine delegation will be led by Edre Olalia, NUPL Secretary General and IADL Bureau member, together with Bayan Muna Representatives Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate. Colmenares and Zarate are also the President and Adviser, respectively, of the NUPL. The other delegates are officers and members of NUPL chapters in Metro Manila,  Central Luzon, and Negros.

The Philippine delegation will be raising and bringing to the attention of the international legal community the following issues, among others: political repression, persecution and impunity; the plight of political prisoners; and the stalled peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. On the socio-economic front,  the delegates will speak on the rehabilitation efforts of the supertyphoon Yolanda and government accountability; the liability of the US for the Tubbataha reef incident; and the onerous privatization of government hospitals.  The issue of US intervention and increased access of US troops will also be brought before the international community. Finally, they will point out the continuing attacks against human rights defenders and lawyers.

The IADL Congress, a worldwide gathering of progressive and democratic lawyers, is also a venue for dialogue and networking between lawyers and activists from various social movements.

The IADL is a non-governmental organization of lawyers with consultative status at the United Nations ECOSOC and UNESCO. It was founded in 1946 by legal professionals who had been active in the struggle against fascism. IADL’s first president was René Cassin, one of the principle authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. IADL’s first President Emeritus is Nelson Mandela.

Since its founding, the IADL has assisted with legal advice to peoples and liberation movements throughout the world who struggled against colonialism, oppression, racism, and exploitation. The NUPL is the Philippine affiliate of the IADL which has hundreds of members all over the world today.

The IADL Congress is held once every five years, the last one in Hanoi, Vietnam in June 2009.# (js)

Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Secretary General

National Secretariat
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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