The ICJ and the Alternative Law Groups (ALG) today called on the Government of the Philippines to take immediate and effective action to addressing the apparently unlawful killing of Benjamin ‘Ben’ Ramos, a prominent lawyer and a founder of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).
Benjamin Ramos was shot by two unidentified men in the public plaza of Barangay 5, Kabankalan City on 6 November 2018.
The ICJ and ALG call on the Government of the Philippines to conduct a thorough, prompt, impartial, and independent investigation into the killing of Benjamin Ramos.
Benjamin Ramos, in his work with the NUPL, had previously provided legal assistance to the families of the victims of the ‘Sagay 9 massacre’, which involved the killing of nine sugarcane farmers from the National Federation of Sugar Workers by unidentified armed men on 20 October 2018 in Negros Occidental, a province in the central part of the Philippines.
Given the sensitive nature of the work of Benjamin Ramos, which involved confronting powerful interests, it is important that any investigation consider the suspected links between that work and his killing.
“It is essential for the proper and effective functioning of the administration of justice that lawyers are kept safe as they fulfill their duties to protect the rights of their clients and promote the cause of justice,” said Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s Senior International Legal Adviser.
As affirmed by the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, governments must ensure that lawyers are able to perform all their professional functions without “intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.” In addition,“[w]here the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities”.
The organizations note that there have been at least thirty-four (34) lawyers killed since 2016, under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The rising number of killings of lawyers is very concerning and alarming; it is an attack not only on individual lawyers but on the justice system as whole. The Philippine government must take immediate and proactive measures to ensure the safety of lawyers as they conduct their professional duties,” said Maria Generosa Mislang, National Coordinator of ALG.
Emerlynne Gil, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser, t: +662 619 8477 (ext. 206) ; e: emerlynne.gil(a)icj.org