Welcome home Senator Leila !

Brussels-Rome, 15 November 2023

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) welcomes the release on bail of former Senator Leila de Lima and hopes that this is the first step to her long overdue full judicial rehabilitation after nearly seven years of unjust detention since 24 February 2017. We wish her the best as she can now return to her family, friends and loyal allies, and charge back to the forefront of the defence of human rights in the Philippines.
 
NPWJ stands by Senator Leila De Lima in fulfilling her mission of defending the victims of the brutal murders of several thousands of suspected drug users under the so-called “War on Drugs” of former President Rodrigo Duterte, and in holding accountable the perpetrators and the enablers of these heinous crimes whether in the national or the international arena. 
 
The cry of the families of the victims and the call for justice from all sectors of  Philippine society have reached the global community. Our NPWJ activists have joined forces with lobby groups in calling out the international institutions at various times and platforms, including in side-events at the United Nations. 
 
The United Nation aims at building a world where all governments of different nations protect their own people as well as the rest of humanity, following the principle of the universality of human rights and human dignity. But all this is fractured, broken into pieces, when in the name of fighting drug syndicates, the authorities themselves end up killing the victims and jailing their defenders. And sadly, this has been the case of the Philippines.
 
The goal of the United Nations is not served when, in the name of the “War on Drugs”, a duly-elected senator is put in prison, robbing her of her term of office, without evidence, using convicted drug lords as witnesses, and with a series of judges inhibiting themselves. That is the case of Senator Leila De Lima, whose only crime was to investigate the extra judicial killings under President Duterte, all in the name of the “War on Drugs”.
 
For its part, the International Criminal Court (ICC), based on the information it has received and after careful deliberation, has approved the conduct of the formal investigation on the possible crimes against humanity committed by previous administration. The ICC’s Rome Statute asserts that “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation”. It is also “determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes”. 
 
NPWJ, being one of those who staunchly pushed for the ICC’s creation and effective operations, pledges its continuing support both for the work of the Prosecution and the legal struggle of our Philippine partners. We shall dedicate our competency and mobilise our network in the following action points:
 

  1. Documentation. Senator Leila De Lima has long started the process of investigating and documenting the extrajudicial killings during the past several years. NPWJ shall work in partnership with those who are engaged in providing sound evidence for legal and humanitarian purposes and project the voices of the victims in local and global platforms.
  2. Investigation.  Senator Leila De Lima’s over-extended imprisonment has impelled many international actors to protest against the lack of judicial justice in the country. NPWJ joins the chorus of the call to the current Philippine administration, under President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to allow the ICC investigation process to take its due course. If there is nothing to hide, there is no reason to fear. 
  3. Liaison. Senator Leila De Lima attributes her survival from the pains of incarceration to her deep religious faith and the enduring support of family and friends. NPWJ offers its partnership with civil society organisations, including faith-based groups, in generating strategy and sustaining stamina in speaking out prophetically and calling for accountability, even if at times this boomerangs on our own vulnerability. 

 
In the spirit of our founding principle, we welcome Senator Leila De Lima’s release as a taste of victory of the human spirit and of solidarity of the human community. But her release cannot not yet mean peace, if along the way, the perpetrators of crime continue to escape from justice.