News and features Statements

Detention of Leila de Lima ‘the height of outrage, negligence and injustice’

Amnesty International Philippines –

10 October 2022

Responding to news that prisoner of conscience and former Senator Leila
de Lima was held hostage on 9 October inside her detention cell at the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, Butch Olano, Amnesty
International Philippines Director said:

“It is deeply alarming that human rights defender and former Senator
Leila de Lima was held hostage by another detainee inside no less than
the headquarters of the Philippine National Police. That she has had to
endure this traumatizing and frightening experience on top of being
arbitrarily detained for over five years now is the height of outrage,
negligence and injustice.

“The Philippine government must thoroughly and impartially investigate
this incident – especially as Leila has been the subject of vicious
attacks and political persecution in the last five years – and ensure
that this never happens again. It is the government’s obligation to
ensure the safety and security of Leila, and of all detainees while in

“We reiterate that the charges against Leila are fabricated, and all
evidence against her is manufactured. She should not have been detained
in the first place. Her immediate release is the least that the Marcos
administration could do to rectify her situation. Anything less –
including President Marcos’ offer to transfer her to a different
detention facility – is a perpetuation of this grave injustice against her.”


On 9 October, prisoner of conscience and former Senator Leila de Lima
was held hostage inside her detention cell at the PNP Custodial Center
by an armed detainee as he attempted to escape. The PNP later said in a
statement that the suspect was killed, along with two other detainees
who also tried to escape. The three detainees killed were accused of
being members of terrorist groups.

In a statement after the incident, Leila said she did not imagine being
subjected to a hostage-taking incident while in “unjust detention”. She
said she was “trying to recover psychologically and emotionally from
this harrowing experience,” adding that she was experiencing “lingering
pain” in her chest where the hostage-taker “constantly pressed the point
of his knife.”

Leila was one of the staunchest critics of the administration of former
President Rodrigo Duterte. She was arrested on 24 February 2017 after
she attempted to investigate abuses committed in the context of the
so-called “war on drugs”, which has resulted in the extrajudicial
execution of thousands of suspected drug offenders and other human
rights violations. She was acquitted of one drug-related charge in
February 2021; she remains detained over two more charges.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has offered to transfer Leila to a
different detention facility, which she has declined.

For more information please contact: or for the Philippine Section.