MANILA, Philippines – Over 280 non-governmental organizations have called for “urgent measures” against reported human rights violations under President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs.
“We call on the world to take decisive actions to stop the killings and encourage better policies,” the global coalition said in a statement released on Friday, November 10.
The group, composed of leading human rights organizations in the Philippines, Filipino American advocacy groups, and drug policy reform, recovery, HIV/AIDS support groups, among others, urged the world to “act with urgency” in holding accountable those responsible.
It also asked the international community who are known donors to the Philippines – such as the United Nations, the United States, European Union, and Canada – to “bring their financial and diplomatic leverage to bear on this.”
“We call for a process of accountability, starting with a UN-led investigation,” it said. “At a minimum, donor states should condition most law enforcement assistance on upholding human rights norms.”
“The international community should promote the right to health, by funding evidence-based alternatives to the drug war in the Philippines,” it added.
Duterte’s war on drugs has drawn a lot of criticism from both the local and international communities. (READ: In the PH drug war, it's likely EJK when...)
Latest data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) show that at least 3,850 people have been killed in police operations while at least 2,290 others were killed mostly by vigilantes. (READ: No extrajudicial killings in PH? World 'not fooled,' says HRW)
Not become a model
The statement, released ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, also demanded action from the regional leaders expected to meet Duterte next week.
“We likewise call on world leaders attending the ASEAN Summit to unequivocally call for an end to the killings and for human rights to be respected,” it said. “ASEAN itself should end its silence on this matter. Leaders should warn other countries against adopting similar tactics.”
The 50-year-old association, however, has been heavily criticized for its inaction over human rights abuses in the region – particularly on the attacks against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Duterte’s war on drugs. (READ: The deafening silence of ASEAN on human rights violations)
“When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act – by individual conscience, age-old moral principles, and the global agreements seeking peace and security for all,” the group said. “At this uncertain time, lawlessness and extrajudicial violence must not become a model for more countries.”
This is the latest statement released prior to the ASEAN Summit urging human rights to be put on the agenda.
In a letter dated November 2, two lawmakers from the US congressional rights commission urged President Donald Trump to use his meeting with Duterte during APEC and the ASEAN Summit as venues to raise their concerns over the human rights situation in the Philippines.
Consistent with his rhetoric about non-interference in a country’s internal affairs, Duterte said he will tell Trump – or any other world leader – to “lay off” if human rights is brought up. – Rappler.com
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.