‘Political prisoner’ De Lima gets ‘Prize for Freedom’ award from int’l liberal groups

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Senator Leila De Lima AFP FILE PHOTO

Liberal International (LI) has awarded its “highest human rights honor,” Prize for Freedom to Senator Leila De Lima, the second Filipino to have won the award after former President Corazon Aquino in 1987.

At its 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa this week, more than a hundred politicians from 32 countries voted to award the Prize for Freedom to De Lima, whom they described as a “political prisoner.”

“Leila De Lima has been a flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines and beyond, setting a shining example for other human rights defenders,” Chair of LI’s Human Rights Committee Markus Löning, who met with the senator in July this year, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Even from inside the prison she keeps fighting for the rule of law and the dignity of individuals. She should immediately be released from pre-trial detention,” he added.

LI said it is one of the first organizations to campaign for De Lima’s release and has taken her case to the United Nations Human Rights Council and rallied parliamentarians across Europe.

De Lima, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, has been detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since February, due to drug-related charges.

She repeatedly claimed these charges were “politically-motivated and trumped-up.”

According to LI, the Prize for Freedom is awarded to “a well-known personality of liberal conviction who has made outstanding efforts for the defence of freedom and human rights.”

In 1987, the organization said Aquino was honored for her advocacy of democracy, peace, and the empowerment of women.

Previous recipients also include the imprisoned Saudi liberal blogger, Raif Badawi (2016), Helen Suzman (2002), Martin Lee (1996) and was first awarded in 1986, the international organization said.    /kga

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