On September 18 and 19, more than 250 attorneys from 23 countries gathered in Manila to attend the fifth Conference of Lawyers in the Asia Pacific (COLAP V). The conference sponsored by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers was organized this year by the National Union of People’s Lawyers of the Philippines (NUPL).
Though the majority of delegates were from the Asian Pacific, attorneys from around the world attended including NLG President David Gespass, NLG International Committee Co-Chair and IADL President Jeanne Mirer and NLG International Committee Philippines Subcommittee Chair Vanessa Lucas. COLAP V was themed “Human Rights and Peace Amidst Global Economic Crisis and Conflict.” Delegates developed strategies and recommendations for future work and collaboration over two days of workshops and plenaries covering a host of problems that lawyers in the region face and promoting the cause of human rights and peace. Before closing a declaration was anonymously approved by the delegates. Importantly the declaration states that “[t]he conference reaffirmed that human rights must be universal, indivisible and supreme.” I encourage you to read the entire declaration.
Delegates that stayed on after the conference were able to visit with the Morong 43 health workers. NUPL has been representing the illegally arrested and detained workers, who have been held since February 6, 2010. During the visit inmates reported that during their detention at the military camp they had experienced torture, were not allowed visitors until the fifth day, including legal counseling and were subject to arbitrary interrogations and checks. Just days before COLAP V, IADL officers and members held a dialogue with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. De Lima vowed to review the case of the Morong 43. To learn more about the Morong 43 you can visit http://freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com/.