Dear GFF friends and comrades,
Warmest greetings of solidarity from Kapatiran (Filipino German Friendship Association) and from our partner, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)!
This is to follow-up our appeal to you and your networks to write the Philippine Supreme Court for the release of political prisoners. In its last en banc session, the Supreme Court decided to give the government through the Office of the Solicitor General until April 24 to submit its comment on the petition of detainees for their release from prison.
International Coalition for Human Rights ichrp.net
April 17, 2020H. E. MrRodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the PhilippinesMalcanang PalaceE-mail: email@example.com http://op-proper.gov.ph/Urging the Supreme Court of the Philippinesto send political prisoners homeDear Excellency,The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) is urging the Supreme Court of the Philippines at its virtual en banc session today to release political prisoners on humanitarian grounds,as the whole country battles the COVID-19 pandemic. We are appealing to the leaders of the Philippine judiciaryto make the just,humaneand compassionate decision of freeing the elderly, sick and vulnerable political prisoners.Around 609 political prisoners are detained in congested prisons and 47 of them are of the elderly while 63 are with pre-existing medical conditions and suffering from life-threatening illnesses.Twenty-three of these detainees filed their petition to the Supreme Court last April 8,assertingthat they are not flight risksbecause they are old, frail and sickly. OnMarch 29,2020, Karapatanalso made an urgent appeal for the release of political prisoners, especiallythose suffering from debilitating illnesses and the elderly.We in ICHRP support the families, lawyers and human rights advocates in the Philippines working towards sending them home from these high-risk prisons.ICHRP also notes that these political prisoners are Filipino farmers, union leaders, critics of yourgovernment and human rights defenders jailed under trumped-up charges. Most of them are still to undergo trial which according to the Philippine Constitution and international law makesthem innocent until provenguilty beyond reasonable doubt.The filed petitionalso includes the creation of a Prisoner Release Committee which is intendedto “urgently study and implement the release of all other prisoners in various congested prisons throughout the country who are similarly vulnerable but cannot be included in this Petition due to the difficult circumstances.”Releasing prisoners had been endorsed by theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Michelle Bachelet. Other international groupssuch as thePrison Policy Initiativecalled for the release of low-risk detainees whileHuman RightsWatchwarned about “catastrophic public health problems” if the government does not address the worsening situation of the Philippine prison system.As of March 2020, the recorded congestion of Philippine prison facilities is 534%. Combined with unsanitary facilities, lack of water, nutritious food and medical services,thissituation has led tooutbreaks of tuberculosis, other infectious diseases and now the current threat of COVID-19.International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippineshttps://ichrp.net/
2Finally, ICHRP urges the Court to heed the call of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Michelle Bachelet: “governments should release every persondetained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views.”At the time of writing, countries that have released prisoners as part of their response to the pandemic include the USA, Canada, Germany, Iran, India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Egypt.We ask that the republic of the Philippines doesthe same.Sincerely,Peter Murphy, Chairperson, Global Council,International Coalition for Human Rights in the PhilippinesCc:Mr. Diosdado M. Peralta, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines; Mr. Menardo Guevarra, Secretary of the Department of Justice; Mr. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights; Mr Antonio Guterres, United Nations; UN Special Rapporteur on EJK; DFAT Desk; Senator Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Senator Penny Wong; Senator Richard Di Natale, Andrew Wilkie MHR; Julia Dean.