UTRECHT, The Netherlands (30 May 2010) – The International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), a worldwide grouping of public interest and human rights lawyers, challenged the incoming Philippine administration of presumptive president-elect Sen. Benigno Aquino III to immediately and vigorously pursue all legal moves to make accountable outgoing president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies for the crimes of plunder, human rights violations like killings, disappearances, torture, other crimes against humanity and other high offenses against the Filipino people.
Also passed during the end of the two-day IAPL 4th Congress were resolutions calling for the immediate release of 43 Filipino health workers illegally arrested and subjected to an array of human rights violations by security forces and the prosecution of all persons complicit in the now internationally-condemned Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao province, Mindanao, the Philippines, among others.
The Congress was attended by some 35 lawyers, judges, paralegals and law students from Afghanistan, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Turkey.
“As an organization of people’s lawyers, we will make it certain that the outgoing Arroyo government will not escape prosecutions and being accountable for crimes committed against the people,” said lawyer Edre Olalia, who was reelected as president of IAPL.
“This is also a litmus test for Noynoy Aquino. His attitude and policy towards human rights will be judged at the first instance on how he will pursue the prosecution and conviction of Mrs. Arroyo, her family members and allies who committed crimes against the people,” Olalia, who is also acting Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), added.
Previously, the IAPL has already denounced the Arroyo government over its human rights record that is marred by the killings of activists, lawyers, judges and journalists.
Carlos Zarate, vice president for Mindanao of the NUPL, said the “culture of impunity” being promoted by the Arroyo government is the culprit behind the Ampatuan massacre that brutally claimed the lives of 57 civilians, including two lady members of the NUPL. “The prosecution for such monstrous act should not be limited only to the members of the Ampatuan clan and their private army… it should also include police and military officials and other civilian authorities who are equally liable.”
The IAPL is an organization of peoples’ lawyers in countries where there is oppression of the people’s rights and where the struggle to fight the same is also intense. #30.
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