2024 International Fair Trial Day Conference and the Ebru Timtik Award Ceremony

UP IHR co-organizes the 2024 International Fair Trial Day Conference and the Ebru Timtik Award Ceremony

The University of the Philippines Law Center Institute of Human Rights (UP IHR), in collaboration with the International Fair Trial Day (IFTD) Steering Group, the  UP College of Law, the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL), and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), held the 2024 International Fair Trial Day Conference and Ebru Timtik Award Ceremony last 14th June 2024 at the Malcolm Theater, UP College of Law.

The IFTD and 2024 IFTD

The right to a fair trial has long been recognized by the international community as a fundamental human right. Without a fair trial, every individual risks becoming the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

For this reason, in 2021, a group of lawyers and lawyers’ organizations came together to establish an international day to be held annually on 14 June to raise awareness of the importance of respect for fair trial rights globally. Each year, one country with systemic violations of fair trial rights is selected, where an event and series of activities are held to mark the International Fair Trial Day (IFTD) and draw attention to the situation in that country, including concrete recommendations for reform.

In 2024, the Philippines was designated as the country of focus due to systemic problems with the independence of the judiciary, a culture of impunity and a failure to respect procedural rights for a fair trial. There are also grave concerns of widespread and serious human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings, torture and other ill-treatment, as well as the targeting of lawyers and human rights defenders through the misuse of counterterrorism measures.

The Ebru Timtik Award

The Ebru Timtik Award is an annual award presented for outstanding commitment and sacrifice in upholding fundamental values in relation to the right to a fair trial. The Award is named after Kurdish lawyer, Ebru Timtik, who died in August 2020 following a 238-day hunger strike beginning her fight for the right to a fair trial.

The conference brought together local and international stakeholders and experts, including victims of fair trial violations or their families, to raise awareness on these human rights concerns and discuss actions to address them. The day also paid tribute to all victims of human rights violations.

The program was opened by Tony Fisher of The Law Society of England and Wales; opening remarks from Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, National Executive Director of the IBP, Edre Olalia, Chairperson of the NUPL, and Darlene Berberabe, Dean of the College of Law, University of the Philippines; and a keynote from George Katrougalos, UN Independent Expert on Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order. The keynote and opening remarks collectively acknowledge the present national situation and stark reality of the Philippines resulting in its being chosen as a country of focus for the 2024 IFTD. At the same time, all opening speakers affirm the commitment to a future where human rights are enjoyed by all as evidenced by the day’s conference and continuing efforts of speakers and participants.

Session 1 highlights the history and challenges that judicial independence continues to face, that impact the judges personally, the handling of their cases, and ultimately the right to a fair trial amidst the weaponization of laws against dissenters. The importance of judicial education is also stressed to mitigate external influences and safeguard judicial independence alongside the growing call to redefine courts as rights-based institutions that emphasize fairness and justice beyond legal statutes.

Session 2 discusses the misuse of counter terrorism laws and the effects of the weaponization of these laws in the Philippines on human rights and in particular the victims, who are often those from the grassroots – farmers and indigenous peoples; and the consequent change in the human rights landscape – on laws and infrastructure.

Session 3 provided a platform for the victims of human rights violations (HRVs) and their families and highlights the impact of their experiences on the individual, their families, and its aggregate effect on society. Speakers echoed that the day was more than a tribute to all victims of HRVs. It was also one of the ways forward and a source of hope.

Session 4 tackles the need for accountability and justice and iterates the continuing need to be prepared, the insistence on documenting, reporting, and uncovering HRVs that occur. Addressing impunity for HRVs necessitates not just holding perpetrators accountable and dismantling its supporting infrastructures but also solidarity, commitment, and effecting behavioral change that can all only be achieved through a strong civil society. Consequently, in emphasizing the role of a strong civil society, there must be a framework in place that protects those who speak out.

To fittingly conclude the program, Dean Pacifico Agabin, Former Dean of the UP College of Law, presented this year’s Ebru Timtik Award, to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), for their work in bravely upholding the fundamental values of human rights and due process of law. Dean Agabin lauded the NUPL for its vital role in providing people adequate legal aid and defending human rights. On behalf of his co-jurors, Dean Agabin also expressed hope that the Award’s international recognition of NUPL will help its members continue their work.

  • Post category:News
  • Post last modified:July 4, 2024