Attacks on Lawyers: Post-Coup Myanmar and the Philippines under the Duterte and Marcos Leaderships
Watch live: FORSEA Dialogue on Democratic Struggles Series with guest Gill H. Boehringer, Honorary Senior Research Fellow and former Dean at Macquarie University Law School, Sydney, & Co-Chair of the Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers of the International Association of People’s Lawyers.
“In a courtroom, I now have to worry about not getting myself detained rather than speaking the truth. This is especially true when I have to represent political cases. Everyone at the court knows who I am, and the court has all my credentials and personal information. The SAC [military junta] can detain me at any time, and they can and will make up any reasons they want”. —Yangon-based lawyer, October 11, 2022.
The good lawyers are committed to doing their job of defending their clients’ rights, insisting on the due process and a fair trial, and holding the rule of law as a mirror to those who seek to abuse, bend or otherwise manipulate the Law of the land, for their own sinister ends. The law may not necessarily be just or fair, depending on the type of political system and the nature of the political regime. And still, the good lawyers would without fail fight a good fight within the constraints of the existing judicial system – in defence of the client’s rights, particularly human rights as spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under certain political regimes lawyers doing their job comes with enormous political and personal risks to them – and families. Among the ASEAN member states Myanmar and the Philippines have over the past decades earned international notoriety when it comes to the ruling regimes attacking the defenders of the rule of law and human rights. Leaders of both ASEAN nations have been subjects of investigation by the world’s criminal court in the Hague, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC) , for various and well-documented crimes against humanity. In Myanmar case, even the state itself is “on trial” at the United Nations’ highest judicial organ, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also located in the Hague – for the Crime of All Crimes, the genocide against Rohingya ethnic minority.
In the upcoming dialogue, FORSEA’s Distinguished Guest Gill Boehringer – the American legal scholar and activist educated at the Hastings Law School of the University of California at Berkeley and former Dean at Sydney’s Macquarie University School of Law – will discuss the systematic & vicious attacks on rights defending lawyers by the coup regime in Myanmar and the Duterte and Marcos regimes in the Philippines. Boehringer’s organization – the International Association of People’s Lawyers – has been monitoring, documenting & calling public attention to attacks on rights lawyers worldwide.