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United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday, September 14, said that policies and rhetoric that lead to more deaths in the Philippines need to immediately stop.
Speaking before the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), Bachelet expressed concern over the continued harassment, violence, and drug-related deaths, even at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Beyond this initial process, there is clearly an urgent need to revoke the policies that continue to result in killings and other human rights violations, to bring to justice the perpetrators, and to halt the use of rhetoric inciting violence against people who use or sell drugs,” she said.
Figures from the Philippine National Police show that there have been 7,884 deaths during police operations from July 1, 2016 to August 31, 2020.
The number does not reflect the victims of vigilante-style killings. Human rights groups estimate the total number of fatalities in the drug war to have reached more than 27,000 already. (READ: The Impunity Series)
In July, Bachelet said Duterte’s drug war was being carried out “without due regard for the rule of law, due process, and human rights.”
A scathing report from the UN Human Rights Office also said that local systems have, so far, failed to exact accountability for the killings in Duterte’s violent war on drugs.
The Duterte government said it created an inter-agency panel that is expected to reinvestigate the deaths in police operations.
But Bachelet said her office is still “seeking details… so we can advise and assess the review panel’s scope, process and efficacy.”
Bachelet also urged the UNHRC to continue to monitor and act on the Philippine situation.
“I encourage the Council to remain active in this situation and to support my Office’s continued monitoring and reporting – including to this Council – as well as our technical cooperation to implement the report’s recommendations, and to continue to pursue accountability,” she said.
On Monday, at least 700 groups and advocates also signed a letter calling on the UNHRC to exercise its mandate and establish an independent investigation. (READ: As situation worsens, groups urge UN Human Rights Council to act vs killings in PH)
They said it is the only way to exact accountability from the government, and that any action from the Council “may contribute significantly to deter further human rights violations in the Philippines.” – Rappler.com