ID: HR19-593

Presenting author: Mary Catherine Alvarez Del Rosario

Presenting author biography:

Cathy is the Executive Director of StreetLawPH. She has been working in the field of human rights in the Philippines since 2002. Prior to working on drug policy, Cathy was working on the rights of persons deprived of liberty where she saw that most were charged with drug-related offences.

Establishing StreetLawPH towards access to justice and human rights protection for persons who use drugs in the Philippines

Mary Catherine Alvarez Del Rosario, Kristine Mendoza, Mary Kathryn Sison, Purificacion Bartolome Bernabe, Robert Cruz

StreetLawPh is a new organization of lawyers and advocates working for access to justice and the protection and promotion of human rights for all. In particular, StreetLawPh seeks to provide access to justice and protection for the rights of persons who use drugs.
StreetLawPh envisions a Philippine society where human rights and access to justice is made available to everyone and the rights of persons who use drugs are respected and protected. Due to the criminalization of drug use and punitive drug policies in the Philippines, persons who use drugs are vulnerable to encounters with the criminal justice system where they are often abused and not provided access to justice. The stigma against drug use and drug users also created a culture where due process and the right to counsel for persons who use drugs is not respected. There is an urgent need to provide access to justice and human rights protection to persons who use drugs in the Philippines while advocates push for the reform of existing drug laws and policies.
StreetLawPh seeks to provide a counter-narrative to the stigmatization and dehumanization of drug use and persons who use drugs by providing opportunities for the legal community to get harm reduction, sensitization and drug policy orientation and training in order to convince more legal service providers to give legal assistance to persons who use drugs. StreetLawPh also seeks to empower communities of persons who use drugs by providing them with legal skills and knowledge so they may articulate their access to justice and human rights concerns as they provide emergency legal assistance to their peers. StreetLawPh will also work with law and advocacy groups for the review and reform of existing drug policies towards more a more humane approach centered on harm reduction and human rights protection.