GENEVA, 24 February 2017 – On the eve of the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, we have learned with deep concern of the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima, on charges linked to alleged corruption involving inmates incarcerated for drug trafficking.
Senator de Lima, a former Justice Secretary of the Philippines, has been an outspoken advocate for the dignity of her fellow citizens. She has strongly opposed the extrajudicial killings taking place within the frame of the war on drugs launched by the current administration, using the legal instruments at her disposal as an elected representative.
We are hopeful that the presumption of innocence will be upheld and that Senator de Lima will soon be released from pre-trial detention. We look forward to welcoming her at the sessions of the Human Rights Council and at the International Forum on Human Rights, which she is due to attend in March in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy takes this opportunity to reiterate its message to the President of the Philippines that his war on drugs is misguided and unwinnable and comes at an unbearable cost to the people and their communities.
The use of proportionate sentences for small players in the drug market, relying on intelligence and infiltration to track senior traffickers and criminals, and implementing prevention and harm reduction measures to support people who use drugs, are more effective and far less costly responses to drugs, and uphold the rule of law and the dignity and human rights of all citizens.