Rights group urges UN probe over drug war killings

Amnesty International on Monday, July 8, said extrajudicial killings related to the government’s anti-drug campaign continue to occur, destroying lives and devastating communities.

The rights group released a report entitled “They just kill: Ongoing extrajudicial executions and other violations in the Philippines’ war on drugs” and urged the United Nations to immediately investigate possible rights violations and crimes committed in the wake of the implementation of the war against drugs.

Amnesty International (AI) Philippines director Butch Olano also noted that while the killings were well documented in the first year of the Duterte administration, the cases are often unreported lately — contributing to the normalization of extrajudicial executions, police abuses, erosion of the rule of law and victimization of the poor.

“This situation leaves the victims’ families feeling even more powerless and isolated than before,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amnesty regional director for East and Southeast Asia Nicholas Bequelin said President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs continues to be a “large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price,” even after three years.

“It is not safe to be poor in the Philippines. All it takes to be murdered is an unproven accusation that someone uses, buys or sells drugs. Everywhere we went to investigate drug-related killings, ordinary people were terrified. Fear has now spread deep into the social fabric of society,” he said.

According to the group, an independent, impartial and effective investigation by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) would put an end to these killings and give justice and reparations for the families and victims.

They also asked the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice to start an investigation into the conduct of law enforcement officials suspected of involvement in the killings.

The killings have been prevalent in the province of Bulacan, AI also pointed out.

“Following the transfer of senior police officials from Metro Manila… until then the country’s epicenter of killings, Bulacan province in Central Luzon is now the country’s bloodiest killing field,” the rights group said. 

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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