A Wave of Violence Against Lawyers Is Crippling the Philippines’ Justice System

A Wave of Violence Against Lawyers Is Crippling the Philippines’ Justice System
A masked protester stands next to a banner depicting thousands of victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs during a protest rally in Quezon city, the Philippines, July 23, 2018 (AP photo by Bullit Marquez).

The slaying earlier this month of a prominent human rights lawyer in the Philippines who worked on behalf of poor suspects accused of drug-related crimes has sparked a renewed outcry over President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. The lawyer, Benjamin Ramos, was gunned down by two unidentified assailants on Nov. 6—the 34th lawyer to be killed since Duterte took office in 2016. In an interview with WPR, Imelda Deinla, a research fellow at the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance, explains why Philippine lawyers are being targeted and how this wave of violence is affecting the country’s legal institutions.

World Politics Review: What is driving the current extraordinary wave of violence targeting lawyers in the Philippines?

Imelda Deinla: There is really nothing extraordinary about the extrajudicial killing of lawyers in the Philippines. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines has documented at least 200 killings involving lawyers since 2001. What has been extraordinary, however, is the intensity of violence against lawyers since President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration came to power in 2016.

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