On the recent statement of the Supreme Court on the killings, threats to lawyers and judges

Karapatan welcomes the statement of the Supreme Court en banc on its actions regarding threats and killings of lawyers and judges. Its concern on and taking note of the welfare of judges and lawyers, including those who experienced threats among the lawyers in the petitions questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the red-tagging of Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, is an important declaration.

Victims of human rights violations as well as human rights organizations like ours will participate in its endeavor to collect information regarding threats and killings of lawyers and their clients as well as those against judges. We believe it is important for the Supreme Court to act in a timely and relevant manner on these threats. We recall our own case, the case of human rights workers of Karapatan, seeking legal protection from killings, threats and other forms of human rights violations through petitions for writs of amparo and habeas data which we filed before the Supreme Court in May 2019. We reiterate our appeal to the Supreme Court to act on our petition for review regarding the Court of Appeals’ dismissal, in view of its recent pronouncement.

While the Supreme Court en banc’s consideration of the use of body cameras by law enforcers in the service of arrest and search warrants is a welcome development, we note that using body cameras as part of law enforcement operations such as serving arrest and search warrants are only effective as long as rights-based protocols that uphold civil liberties and rights, including those on data privacy and right to information, and accountability mechanisms are in place. Thus, we enjoin the Supreme Court to consider the practices and lessons learnt in various contexts where body cameras were used in relation to human rights protection in the process of its promulgation of rules on the use of these body cameras.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General