Protection of Lawyers | 17.09.2019

Joint Statement - Situation of Lawyers in the Philippines


UIA, Lawyers for Lawyers and more than 150 bar associations, international and national lawyer’s organizations, and legal professionals from 49 countries around the world called on the Government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to stop the attacks against and extrajudicial killings of lawyers and to end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur.

Initiated by Lawyers for Lawyers, and strongly supported by UIA and its members, the joint petition expressed concern about the increasing number of attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and the oppressive working environment our colleagues face, particularly since President Duterte came to power in 2016.

In the Philippines, no fewer than 41 lawyers and prosecutors have been killed between July 2016 and September 5, 2019 including 24 practicing lawyers. Lawyers are also harassed and intimidated: they are subjected to (death) threats, surveillance, labeling, and other forms of attacks. Most of these attacks against lawyers took place as a result of discharging professional duties or are seemingly work-related. Especially at risk are lawyers representing people accused of terrorist or drug-related crimes, or those who are critical of the government’s policies or behavior, such as journalists, political opposition leaders, and human rights defenders.

International legal community calls on Duterte Government to protect Filipino lawyers

The petition calls on the Duterte Government to adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers in accordance with the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings, to carry out independent investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable.


For further information about this situation, please see the preliminary report presented this past March, following a fact-finding mission co-organized by several organizations including UIA and Lawyers for Lawyers.