Intl lawyers’ group urges ‘brother in the profession’ Duterte to end killings, uphold rights

duterte fist bump with troops
Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — An international lawyers’ organization called on their “brother in the profession,” President Rodrigo Duterte, to end the extrajudicial killings that have characterized his war on drugs and to “respect human rights and fundamental liberties.”

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers reminded Duterte that the Philippines “has a duty to comply with the principles enshrined in international human rights instruments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty which was ratified by (the Philippine) Government in 1986.”

“The IADL knows you are a brother in the profession. We write invoking the spirit of the law which no doubt animated you during your years of practice as a prosecutor. Our profession is, above all, an instrument in the delivery of justice — the tempering of power and the proper balancing between right and authority,” the IADL letter, signed by its president, Jeanne Mirer of the United States, said.

The letter, dated December 18, was received by Malacañang on Thursday, December 21.

The lawyers also voiced concern over Duterte’s “unilateral termination of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the threats of crackdowns against activists, and the reprisals made against political opponents of the administration.”

The group specifically asked Duterte to “exercise everything within his power” to:

  • End extrajudicial killings in the “war against illegal drugs”
  • End extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and other human rights violations against the people and members of people’s organizations
  • Stop or abort any and all measures or plans in any form that are authoritarian and violate basic rights
  • Seriously investigate, prosecute and end impunity of the perpetrators of human rights violations
  • Tolerate dissent and respect the rights of the people to freedom of expression, speech, assembly, and association
  • Ensure the protection of human rights defenders including human rights lawyers
  • Respect international human rights law and consider human rights as universal and not an internal affair of a state but a concern of the international community
  • Respect international humanitarian law and resume the peace process and the resolution of poverty, injustice and the roots of the armed conflict with the National Democratic Front and pursue efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace


The IADL is an international association of progressive lawyers and jurists founded in 1946 in Paris with consultative status at the United Nations through UNESCO and the Economic and Social Council.

Among its Presidents emeriti is Nelson Mandela. Its first president, Rene Cassin, was principal author of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The group’s governing bureau includes National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers leaders Neri Colmenares and Edre Olalia.