GENEVA (17 November 2023) – UN experts* today welcomed the release of former senator Leila De Lima from prison after nearly seven years of incarceration in the Philippines.
“We welcome the news that a court in the Philippines has granted bail to former human rights commissioner, justice minister, and senator, Leila de Lima after years of injustice and incarceration due to seemingly politically motivated allegations,” the experts said.
“Leila De Lima has a long-standing reputation as a human rights defender seeking accountability for extrajudicial killings and other cases of gross human rights violations in the Philippines,” they said, noting that she had spent 10 years investigating “death squad” executions. She was elected to the Senate in 2016 but served five years of her six-year term behind bars. She has also been an outspoken critic of the death penalty, proposing a bill to increase the length of life imprisonment in the country instead of reintroducing it.
In 2009, as Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, De Lima launched an investigation into extrajudicial killings in Davao, including the alleged involvement of Duterte, then-Mayor of Davao City. As a Senator in 2016, De Lima called for an end to extrajudicial killings and pushed for Senate investigations into those already committed.