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EU Parliament calls for UN probe into killings, abuses under Duterte

The European Parliament joined the strong calls for the United Nations to lead an independent probe into widespread killings and abuses in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a resolution on Thursday, September 17, the Parliament urged the EU and member-states to proactively support the adoption of a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council.

EU Parliament press officer Victor Almqvist confirmed to Rappler that the resolution was adopted as a whole on Thursday.

The resolution was adopted with 626 votes in favor, 7 against, and 52 abstentions.

The EU Parliament said in the document that an "independent international investigation" should commit to bring to justice those behind the culture of impunity in the Philippines. (READ: The Impunity Series)

Data from the Philippine National Police show that there have been 7,884 deaths during police operations as of August 31, 2020. 

The number excludes those victims of vigilante-style killings, which human rights groups estimate to have reached more than 27,000 already. (READ: The Impunity Series)

The European lawmakers also encouraged the International Criminal Court "to continue its inquiry into the allegations of crimes against humanity" in Duterte's war on drugs.

This is not the first time the EU Parliament condemned the situation in the Philippines. In 2018, it adopted another resolution calling on the Philippines to end extrajudicial killings, among other demands. 

End harassment

In its resolution on Thursday, the EU Parliament also highlighted the current reality faced by human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and members of the opposition.

It strongly condemns the latest killings of defenders – including Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez – and demands the government to investigate and hold to account those responsible. (READ: Duterte ushers in new level of danger for activists, human rights defenders)

The resolution called on the government to stop the political persecution of critics and journalists, including detained Senator Leila de Lima and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

The resolution also condemned "all threats, harassment, intimidation, rape, and violence against those who seek to expose allegations of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations" in the Philippines.

Ressa has been convicted for cyber libel in a case that the EU Parliament calls politically motivated.

De Lima, a fierce critic of Duterte, has been jailed since February 2017 over drug charges. (TIMELINE: De Lima – from drug probe to arrest)

Affirms reports

The resolution of the EU Parliament mirrors the findings by the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who previously said the drug war of Duterte is being carried out without regard for due process and human rights.

At least 700 groups and advocates on Monday, September 14, signed a letter calling on the council to exercise its mandate and establish an independent investigation, based on Bachelet's report. (READ: As situation worsens, groups urge UN Human Rights Council to act vs killings in PH)

The UNHRC on Monday convened for its 45th Session, which will last until October 6.

During the opening of the current session, Bachelet also expressed concern on the continuing violence in the country, adding that policies and rhetoric that lead to more deaths need to immediately stop. –

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.