Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL)
4 September 2005
ASIAN LAWYERS CONDEMN KILLINGS OF LAWYERS IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Fourth Conference of Lawyers in Asia and the Pacific (COLAP 4) held in Seoul on September 2-3, 2005 issued a Joint Declaration yesterday condemning human rights violations in many Asian counties including the killings of Philippine lawyers which it considered as an attack against the human rights of the Filipino people.
This Declaration followed the scathing criticism of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government from Jitendra Sharma in his keynote speech, for failing to act on the spate of killings and harassment of lawyers in the Philippines. Mr. Sharma, who is the President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and one of the largest international organizations of lawyers, specifically mentioned the killing of BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) chairman Atty. Norman Bocar as the latest of a series of killings that causes concern for lawyers from all over the world.
The Conference, which was attended by about 250 lawyers, law professors and law students from Korea, Japan, US, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, China, Pakistan, New Zealand, Vietnam and the Philippines declared that "human rights of the people in Asia and the Pacific continue to be violated in many counties, and this must be condemned. In the Philippines, several lawyers who represented people's causes and judges have recently been assassinated, reflecting on the situation in the region." The COLAP "confirmed the need for peace and solidarity movements to secure human rights" in the region and the world.
The Philippines was represented by Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares and Atty. Edre U. Olalia, two of the convenors of the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL). Olalia also acts as the Vice President of the International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL) which has earlier denounced in May the previous killings and viewed the Philippines as a "dangerous place" for lawyers and judges.
The Joint Declaration also opposed the US war of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan for "economic, political, and military dominance of the region" and called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops. The assembly also scored "anti-terrorism¡" measures which violate human rights of the people in several countries including the Philippines. The COLAP lawyers also oppose the "ideology of neo-liberal globalization adversely impacting on the lives of workers and farmers" and which increases exploitation of peoples. COLAP furthermore recognized the need to rectify the rights of migrant workers which are disregarded in many countries including Korea where there are an estimated 55,000 Filipino migrant workers.
In a show of solidarity, COLAP 4 through Prof. Osamu Niikura, Secretary General of the Japan Lawyers Association, asked the Philippines during the closing ceremonies to host the next Asian-Pacific lawyers' conference or COLAP 5 in Manila in 2007. #
Reference: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares