Human rights groups laud de Lima acquittal in 2nd drug case

Local and international human rights organizations are lauding the acquittal of former Senator Leila de Lima in one of the two drug-related cases filed against her.

De Lima, who has been detained since her arrest in February 2017, was accused of conspiring to commit trade of illegal drugs. The other drug-related case is still pending, and a decision on her bail application has been deferred.

Amnesty International’s interim Deputy Regional Director for Research Montse Ferrer welcomed the partial acquittal of the human rights defender, stating that “the charges against Leila de Lima are bogus and the result of the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression.”

The group is urging authorities to quash the remaining drug case against de Lima and process her application for temporary freedom speedily and fairly.

The Commission on Human Rights also expressed support for de Lima, welcoming the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court’s decision to acquit her on her second drug case.

The court cited reasonable doubt due to the recantation of a former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge as the reason for acquittal. The Commission hopes for a swift decision on de Lima’s remaining case, saying that her continued pre-trial detention is a violation of her human rights.

De Lima was arrested in 2017 after seeking to investigate human rights violations committed in the context of the so-called “war on drugs” under former President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Amnesty International has called the charges against her fabricated and the testimonies against her manufactured.

De Lima’s detention was deemed arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention due to the lack of legal basis and non-observance of international norms relating to the right to a fair trial.

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