Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called on the Philippine government to stop the “politically-motivated” prosecution of Sen. Leila de Lima, one of the most outspoken critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ferocious war on drugs.
“Every day that Duterte keeps de Lima in jail, he undermines Philippine democracy. Senators and representatives, whatever their political views, should be calling for her release,” HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine said.
He made the statement 10 days before February 24, one year since authorities arrested and detained De Lima over drug charges.
“President Duterte saw to the arrest of Sen. De Lima a year ago to vilify her for her strident and principled opposition to his murderous drug war,” Kine said.
But De Lima’s prosecution has only raised her global stature and brought greater attention to Duterte’s “demolition of the rule of law and respect for human rights,” he added.
American magazine Foreign Policy named De Lima as one of the leading global leaders of 2016 and 2017 for publicly denouncing the chief executive’s brutal drug war behind bars.
She was also recognized as one of 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine, one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders in 2017 by Amnesty International and Prize for Freedom Awardee by Liberal International.
READ: De Lima again hailed as a ‘leading global thinker’
The detained senator was accused of protecting and coddling drug traders inside the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as Justice secretary.
De Lima, who has repeatedly denied the charges, is facing three counts of violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
She is currently detained at the police headquarters in Camp Crame.
Last year, Duterte vowed to “destroy” De Lima, who had ordered a Senate probe into the killings related to the government’s war on drugs.