Young rights lawyer receives US-based Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty

Young rights lawyer receives US-based Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty
This handout photo shows lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers.
Altermidya Panay released

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino human rights lawyer AK Guillen, who survived an attack in 2021, has been recognized as the winner of the 2022 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty.

Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First, said the Baldwin Medal, for over three decades, “has brought recognition and support to extraordinary activists who are advancing the protection of human rights at great personal risk.”

The Human Rights First, an “independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals,” picked Guillen hailing him as a “courageous and effective advocate whose work has made a difference in the lives of his fellow Filipinos and put a spotlight on abuses and calling for accountability.”

In March 2021, Guillen was stabbed twice in Iloilo and was found with a screwdriver in his cheek.

In receiving his recognition, he said the award will encourage his colleagues ever more “to continue our work defending human rights and civil liberties in the Philippines, even in these difficult times.”

Young rights defender

He said that announcement of the award coincides with the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is also the National Indigenouse Peoples Day in the Philippines.

Guillen was one of the lawyers representing indigenous Tumandok land defenders and assisting in anti-terrorism law petitions.

“Indigenous peoples, like the Tumandok community, as well as farmers, labor leaders, and activists, have borne the brunt of unjust arrests, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights violations committed by state security forces that, to this day, still take place throughout the country. Their rights must be protected, and we hope that this recognition will help bring attention to their plight,” he added.

The young lawyer also represents activists and human rights defenders facing trumped up charges in court, including the activists arrested during the police raids in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental in October 2019, the NUPL said.

The attack against Guillen happened while there was an alarming increase in threats against lawyers in the Philippines where more than 50 were killed since June 2016.

A large majority of these murders remain unsolved, and the Supreme Court in March that year, issued a rare and strongly-worded statement that “to threaten our judges and our lawyers is no less than an assault to the judiciary.”

Guillen will receive the award in person at an event in the United States later this year.

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