#WarOnDrugs: Amnesty Int'l seeks independent body on rights abuse
MANILA, Philippines – London-based rights group Amnesty International has weighed in on the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings happening in the Philippines.
That over 1,700 killings by unknown assassins and police have occurred since the Duterte administration assumed power in June 2016 is "a terrifying indication that the authorities are grossly failing in their obligations to respect and protect the right to life," Amnesty International said in a statement released on Wednesday, August 24.
"The unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of a state actor, or with the state’s complicity or acquiescence, is an extrajudicial execution. This is a crime under international law," the group said.
"This risks the further breakdown of the rule of law in the country," it said, reminding authorities that the state has a duty to protect people from all forms of violence, including an obligation of due diligence to prevent killings and to promptly, independently and impartially investigate such killings and bring perpetrators to justice.
Recent statements by high-level authorities and police directives have further endangered the right to life, the rights group said.
Amnesty International called on the Philippine government to create an independent police complaints commission to be set up which is fully independent of and free from the influence of the PNP.
According to the rights group, the commission should have the mandate to receive complaints and other reports of human rights violations committed by the police, be required to report publicly on its activities, and have the mandate and resources to provide any necessary protection to complainants, victims, and witnesses.
"Instead of inciting violence against people who have developed a dependency to drugs, the authorities should ensure they have access to medical care. Furthermore, this issue should be treated as a public health matter," Amnesty International said.
The rights group also said that other countries' heavy reliance on strong arm tactics against drug use and trade has not reduced the problem, as found by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
On August 22, in a Senate inquiry into allegations of extrajudicial executions, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa revealed that 712 people had been killed in police operations against drug users and drug sellers, and 1,067 had been killed by unknown vigilantes since July 1.
Dela Rosa has been leading the PNP in a nationwide campaign to stop – or at least suppress – crime, illegal drugs, and corruption. But it's a campaign that's also earned the ire of critics, who have hit it for being supposedly anti-poor and for encouraging violence and vigilantism.
Urban poor decries killings
Meanwhile, the militant urban poor group KADAMAY stormed Camp Crame on Wednesday, August 24, to condemn the alleged extrajudicial killings. According to the group, the Duterte administration's war on drugs is targetting "defenseless urban poor Filipinos."
"We will continue to oppose the war against the senseless killings, especially when there are still alternatives that can be explored,” KADAMAY chairperson Gloria Arellano said in a statement.
“For the Filipino urban poor, we have yet to see the change promised to us. Duterte is accountable for the appalling number of deaths which neither he nor the PNP can definitively call just. Yet his campaign continues, turning against the impoverished who supported him," said Arellano. – Rappler.com