Rights groups ask UN to condemn drug-related killings in PH

Jodesz Gavilan
Rights groups ask UN to condemn drug-related killings in PH


Some 300 NGOs say the approach of the Duterte administration 'clearly deviates from important global norms for the implementation of drug control policies'

MANILA, Philippines – A network of non-governmental organizations (NGO) has urged international drug control agencies to condemn the “alarming” increase in the number of drug suspects killed in the Philippines. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, August 2, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) said it had sent a letter, calling for the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) to “state unequivocally” that the drug-related killings “do not constitute acceptable drug control measures.”

Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch (HRW), one of the signatories in the letter together with 300 organizations, said that the agencies should tell President Rodrigo Duterte that the killings is a symptom of government’s failure to protect human rights. 

“International drug control agencies need to make clear to Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte that the surge in killings of suspected drug dealers and users is not acceptable ‘crime control,’ but instead a government failure to protect people’s most fundamental human rights,” he explained. 

Data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed that from the time Duterte took office and until August 1, there have been 402 drug personalities killed during legitimate anti-illegal drug operations while 5,418 have been arrested.  

The rise in killings, the IDPC stated, “clearly deviates from important global norms for the implementation of drug control policies.”

In the letter, the IDPC called for INCB and UNODC to: 

  1. Encourage Duterte to make measures against illegal drugs in the country be “grounded in international law.”
  2. Request the president to “put an immediate end to incitements to kill” drug suspects
  3. Encourage the upholding of the rule of law and ensure the right to due process and fair trial is given to drug suspects. 
  4. Encourage the promotion of an evidence-based and health-focused approach to people who use drugs. 
  5. Discourage the re-imposition of the death penalty for drug offenses, in line with the international human rights obligations of the Philippines. 

Against ‘respect for human rights’ 

Kine said that the “passive or active government complicity” is a contradiction to Duterte’s pledge to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law. 

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 30, Duterte said that the government will not stop until “the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or [been] put behind bars or below the ground.” (READ: HRW hits Duterte for ‘implicitly’ supporting killings in policy speech)

Efforts of his administration against illegal drugs must be doubled or tripled, if need be, as “there will be no let-up in this campaign.”

Duterte, however, also said his administration will be “sensitive to the State’s obligations to promote, and protect, fulfill the human rights of our citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable.” (FULL TEXT: President Duterte’s 1st State of the Nation Address)

Social justice, he emphasized, will be pursued, “even as the rule of law shall at all times prevail.”

Kine said that INCB and UODC, both international drug control agencies, may play an important role in ending the drug-related killings. 

“[They] can play an invaluable role in halting the rising body count of suspected drug dealers and users killed by both police and unidentified vigilantes,” he emphasized. “The current status quo in the Philippines puts human rights, rule of law, and the safety and security of Filipinos in immediate peril.” – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.