Int'l Parliamentary Union: Trial observer should monitor De Lima case

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2017 01:24 PM

MANILA - The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is considering sending a trial observer to monitor and report on proceedings against detained Sen. Leila de Lima over drug allegations. 

In its committee report released Wednesday, the IPU said an observer is necessary to ensure a fair trial. It again called for the senator's release "in the belief that there is no evidence to justify" the charges against her. 

It said authorities involved should "ensure that due process is followed" and that there should be "proper assessment of evidence presented" by both the prosecution and the defense. 

"Should the criminal cases against Senator de Lima proceed, the delegation recommends that an IPU trial observer should monitor and report on respect for fair trial standards," the organization said in its report.

"The delegation considers it of the utmost importance that an IPU trial observer then monitor and report on respect for due process in the legal proceedings," it said.

De Lima has been detained on drug-related charges since February for allegedly receiving money from the illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary during her time as Justice Secretary. 

She is facing drug charges in three separate salas at the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court. 

The senator, a staunch administration critic, has repeatedly dismissed the charges against her as "political persecution."

De Lima thanked the IPU for its efforts and vowed that she would not give up in the legal battle.

“Despite the Duterte administration’s obvious effort to intimidate and silence me through my continued unjust detention, I am grateful that the Inter-Parliamentary Union vows to fight for my right to fair trial,” she said.

“I thank the IPU for defending my causes and vouching for my integrity. I know that my fight is not my fight alone as this is the fight for human rights, democracy and rule of law," she added.

A delegation of the IPU Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians visited De Lima in her detention cell in May.

The IPU has repeatedly called for the release of the former justice chief and human rights commissioner, citing the lack of evidence against her. 

The union is an organization of 173 member parliaments, including the Philippine legislature, and 11 associate members such as parliaments representing groups of nations in Europe and the Middle East, and other parliamentary organizations in Africa and Latin America.