MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima has received the highest human rights prize from Liberal International, a global federation of liberal political parties.
De Lima, member of the Liberal Party (LP), is the second Filipino recipient of the Prize for Freedom award, after former president Corazon Aquino in 1987.
According to a statement from the organization, global politicians voted this week to grant the award to De Lima during the 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. At least 100 liberals from 32 countries were registered to participate in the meeting, the statement added.
Liberal International was one of the first international organizations to campaign for De Lima’s release and has taken the case to the United Nations Human Rights Council and has also rallied parliamentarians across Europe.
Markus Löning, chairman of Liberal International’s Human Rights Committee, said that the senator has been a “flag-bearer” for human rights in the Philippines and beyond.
“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,” Loning, who earlier met with De Lima in detention, said in a statement.
De Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody drug war, has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February over drug charges she claimed were fabricated. The Supreme Court earlier ruled against De Lima's petition to nullify her arrest warrant on questions of case jurisdiction, thereby keeping her in jail.
According to LI, the Prize for Freedom is awarded to “a well-known personality of liberal conviction who has made outstanding efforts for the defense of freedom and human rights.”
Previous recipients include the imprisoned Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi (2016), Helen Suzman (2002), and Martin Lee (1996). The award was first made in 1986.
While in detention, De Lima has also received other awards including the 2016 Global Thinker Award by Foreign Policy, one of the Top Most Influential People for 2017 by Time Magazine, and one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders for 2017 by Amnesty International. – Rappler.com