Maguindanao Massacre: An Indian lawyer comments on defense lawyers' action

(Hong Kong, February 28, 2011) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is publishing this podcast interview with Mr. Bijo Francis, a human rights lawyer from India and programme officer of the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), regarding his comments and opinion on the trial of the Maguindanao Massacre case.

Bijo has handled numerous human rights cases in India--from cases involving ordinary Indians to cases that are highly political in nature. He has many years of experience in dealing with court cases and has been providing legal assistance to victims, not only in India, but also other South Asian countries seeking legal remedies.

Bijo has met with Joseph Jubelag, one of the three journalists who had escaped from the Maguindanao Massacre in November 23, 2009 (for details: AHRC-UAC-165-2009). He has followed the progress of the case in court and like many other people inside and outside the country, was shocked at the magnitude of the massacre.

We ask Bijo's opinion on the fundamental questions as to what should have been the role of lawyers, prosecutors and the judges in the trial.

Facts of the case

The AHRC issued a statement: On Maguindanao massacre -- questions of morality, practice of law and the legal system, which gives some details about the extreme difficulties of complainants in pursuing cases in court. It also raised fundamental questions as to the role of lawyers, prosecutors and court judges in dealing with court cases.

We also did a podcast interview with Myrna Reblando, widow of Alejandro "Bong" Reblando, following her reaction to the court trial on February 3, 2011. In this widely reported video, she expressed her discontent as to how the trial of the murder of her husband and loved ones of other complainants is taking place.

Myrna's podcast interview can be downloaded here: Myrna Reblando, widow of murdered journalist Bong Reblando. It is Cebuano/Filipino language.

For those who are interested to have her message spread to non-Cebuano/Filipino language speakers, you can help in transcribing the interview into English. Please contact us at:

Discussion in two parts

Maguindanao massacre: "defense lawyer ridicules the process; asks questions defying common sense"
Part 1 can be downloaded here:  
Description: Mr. Bijo Francis, argues that not only the murdered journalists in life lacked protection; even in their deaths their murder trial is muddied by the defense lawyers by "ridiculing the process, defying common sense".

Maguindanao massacre: "the role of defense lawyers and prosecutors is to encourage witnesses to speak, not to find mere contradictions"
Part 2 can be downloaded here:
Description: Mr. Bijo Francis argues that it is a wrong conception that the defense lawyers must defend their clients to get acquittal irrespective of the means they resort to. The role of the defense lawyers, the prosecutors and the court is to encourage witnesses to speak and to help the court to find the truth.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has launched the AHRC Philippines Rights Cast, a podcast in local languages of the Philippines including Cebuano, and Tagalog. You can subscribe to this podcast using different software or feed readers: iTunes, Zune, ZENCast, MyYahoo, Google Reader, RSS Feed.


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