US approves sanctions vs De Lima jailers
MANILA, Philippines — The US Senate has approved a resolution calling on the White House to impose sanctions on government officials responsible for extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, as well as the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima. US Senate Resolution No. 142 invoked the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the United States to impose sanctions on foreign officials implicated in human rights abuses.
These include banning them from the United States and freezing their assets there.
The US Senate approved the resoIution by voice vote or acclamation on Wednesday night (Thursday in Manila).
In a message to reporters, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the resolution “ appears to be a violation of the (US) Constitution re the Bill of Attainder.”
He was referring to the provision that prohibits legislative acts from singling out a group for punishment without trial.He would like to think his US counterparts were “misinformed because it’s an affront to our justice system,” Sotto said.De Lima had yet to comment on the development, but her office said she might issue a statement later.
The US resolution sponsored by US Sen. Edward Markey calls for De Lima’s release and describes her as a “prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression.”‘Fake charge’De Lima has been detained since 2017 on what she calls trumped-up charges that she had facilitated the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.
She said she was jailed for investigating the killings that took place under Mr. Duterte’s watch.Earlier on Thursday, the senator disputed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s remarks that she had not filed for bail in her case because she believes the prosecution’s evidence was strong.
“How can a fake charge, a pure invention, have strong evidence? Lies orchestrated from criminal convicts and other so-called ‘prosecution witnesses’ with dubious reputation are never strong evidence,” she said.The senator, however, declined to comment on the issue of bail, saying she and her lawyers do not want to telegraph their legal moves to the prosecution, “which is likely the reason for (Justice Secretary) Guevarra’s public baiting statement.” Guevarra would be more credible if he ran after “real drug lords” with the same vigor that he was prosecuting the case against her, De Lima said.
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