COLAP (Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific), established in 2016, consists of democratic lawyers associations from 11 countries in Asia.
On July 3, 2020, an anti-terrorism law was enacted in the Philippines.
The law uses a very vague concept to designate “terrorism,” and a wide range of activities, including conspiracy, abetting that is subject to punishment. It allows the police and military to authorize to detain people without judicial involvement for up to 24 days. It has a significant chilling effect on freedom of expression and political activity.
Particularly under President Duterte, who has promoted extrajudicial killings and the suppression of activists and lawyers since he took office in 2016. When this law comes into effect, it will not work as per the text of the law. Instead, the law intends for the repression under the confusion of the COVID 19 disaster. The law also applies to foreigners suspected of engaging in terrorism. It has a significant negative impact on international solidarity activities.
It violates the freedom of expression and political activity and the due process. It is clear violation of international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Philippines government should repeal this shameful law if the country wants to be part of the international community. They should pay attention that the recent national security law in Hong Kong was criticized by the international community, including the United Nations.
NUPL, an affiliate member association of COLAP, has been committed to defending the human rights of citizens, workers, indigenous peoples, and migrants. It is not a terrorist by any means and actively protects human rights in the peace process and the creation of a society free of poverty. It should be protected as a human rights defender.
In Asia, recently enacted laws that deprive citizens of freedom of expression and political activity such as the National Security Act in South Korea, and some similar repressive laws in other Asian countries intend to suppress the peace movement and human rights activities. Some of these trends are toward dictatorship in Asia.
The Philippines and Asia do not need such internationally shameful laws and should abolish it. We, lawyers in COLAP, pledge to continually demand to abolish it and monitor it so that it would not operate for suppression of lawyer activities.
Confederation of lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP)
Bangladesh: Democratic Lawyers Association of Bangladesh
India: Indian Association of Lawyers
Japan: Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association
Nepal: Progressive and Professional Lawyers of Nepal
Pakistan: Democratic Lawyers Associate of Pakistan
Philippines: National Union of Peoples Lawyers