Defensa de la defensa | 24.07.2020

Increasing Attacks, Persistent Impunity and Red-Tagging: Advocating for Human Rights in the Philippines

Friday, July 24, 2020 – 4 pm – 5 pm (CEST)

On November 6, 2018, prominent human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos was standing in front of a store near the public plaza in Kabankalan City, on Negros Island, when he was shot by two unidentified persons. A founding member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and of Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group, Inc. (PDG), Benjamin Ramos courageously dedicated his professional life to the defense of the rights of farmers in Negros, as well as of other victims of human rights violations, defying multiples threats, intimidation and stigmatization. His killing provoked widespread condemnation, even by   the Presidential Spokesperson. To date, however, no significant steps have been made to investigate his murder. His case is far from isolated.

For years, the international and national legal community, including UIA, has repeatedly raised alarms about the increasing number of threats and violent attacks against, and extra-judicial killings of, lawyers in the Philippines. The situation has significantly deteriorated since the Duterte’s administration took office: according to reports, in the last four years, more than 45 legal professionals have been killed in the Philippines. Most of these attacks remain unresolved and the perpetrators remain unpunished.

Filipino lawyers are also exposed to red-tagging (i.e., accused of being communist), reprisal and criminal charges solely for performing their professional duties or defending human rights. Those who work on politically sensitive cases or who advocate for victims’ rights are particularly targeted. 

In a long-awaited report released on June 4, 2020, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)  concluded that President Duterte’s pervasive focus on national security issues, including the so-called “war on drugs” and fight against terrorism, has resulted in widespread and pervasive human rights violations.

These long-standing documented violations seem to be made more acute by the continuous impunity for the perpetrators.

Join us for an online discussion with Clarissa Ramos, wife of Ben Ramos, and Edre Olalia, President of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), both of whom face reprisals for their work in the Philippines. Ms. Ramos and Mr. Edre will also provide guidance on how the international legal community can aid and support them in their fight for the defense of Human Rights and the Rule of Law.


Jacqueline R. Scott, Director General, UIA-IROL


Clarissa Iringan Ramos, Member of "Paghida-et sa Kauswagan" Development Group, Inc (PDG) - Widow of late Atty. Benjamin Ramos Jr.

Edre Olalia, President, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)

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