Human Rights Watch to UN rights council: Denounce drug war killings in PH

Jodesz Gavilan
Human Rights Watch to UN rights council: Denounce drug war killings in PH
The New York-based human rights group urges the United Nations Human Rights Council to pressure the Philippines into supporting an international investigation into the drug-related killings

MANILA, Philippines – An international human rights group urged the United Nations to denounce the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs as it conducts a review of the country’s human rights progress on Monday, May 8.

In a statement on Thursday, May 4, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on member countries to pressure the Philippines into supporting an international investigation into the drug-related killings “given the government’s own failure to impartially investigate or prosecute those responsible.” 

“The UN review of the Philippines is critical because of the sheer magnitude of the human rights calamity since President Rodrigo Duterte took office last year,” HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine said. “Duterte’s war on drugs has been nothing less than a murderous war on the poor.”

The Universal Periodic Review, which happens every 4 years, will cover the last 4 years of the Aquino administration and the first 9 months since Duterte took over the presidency. 

Members and observers of the UN Human Rights Council are expected to echo the sentiments of both local and international groups and raise the Philippines’ past human rights pledges and concerns – particularly the rise in drug-related killings and the plans to reimpose the death penalty.

As of April 23, 2017, 2,717 suspected drug personalities have been killed in police operations since  the start of the Duterte administration while 3,603 deaths are currently under investigations. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Philippines’ war on drugs)

Representatives of the Duterte administration, meanwhile, are ready to defend the government’s human rights record before the UN council. (READ: Duterte gov’t to defend drug war, human rights record before UN)

“Well, we’re always ready to defend our country, the President’s intentions, what’s happening in our country,” Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, a part of the delegation, said.

Cayetano, however, said that he will not deny that there are indeed human rights violations in relation to the summary executions, but maintained that they are not state-sponsored – despite Duterte’s public pronouncements urging people to kill drug personalities. – 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.