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Iceland calls for U.N. action vs drug war killings in the Philippines

Jodesz Gavilan

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Iceland calls for U.N. action vs drug war killings in the Philippines
(3rd UPDATE) If the draft resolution is approved, the United Nations Human Rights Council will request rights chief Michelle Bachelet to prepare a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Iceland on Thursday. July 4, filed a draft resolution that will push the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to call for concrete actions against the rising number of killings in the Philippines, including those under the violent anti-illegal drug campaign. 

If approved, the UNHRC will request rights chief Michelle Bachelet to prepare a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines that will be presented to the council.

The draft resolution also urges the government to cooperate with UN offices and mechanisms by facilitating country visits and “refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.” 

The draft resolution noted the “repeated expression of concern” on the Philippine situation by Bachelet and other special rapporteurs, including Agnes Callamard who has been threatened by Duterte himself. 

The UNHRC is expected to vote whether or not to adopt the draft resolution before the 41st session ends on July 12.  

Duterte’s violent war on drugs has led to at least 6,000 suspected drug personalities killed in police operations while human rights groups pegged the number to reach more than 20,000 to include those killed vigilante-style

Bachelet, during the opening of the 41st session, said that her office is closely monitoring the situation as the confirmed number of deaths “would be a matter of most serious concern for any country.” 

She also said she supports the calls of UN special rapporteurs for the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation into the killings.

Various human rights groups have been lobbying for action from international organizations, including the UN, against the worrisome situation in the Philippines.

Ellecer Carlos of In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity (iDEFEND) told Rappler that they are hopeful that the draft resolution will be adopted though it will be a “close shave.” (READ: Human rights: How to deal with Duterte, the biggest challenge?)

“This is a make-or-break situation,” he said. 

iDEFEND said in a statement that it hoped “a majority of the members of the Human Rights Council will appreciate the urgency of the resolution and vote favorably for its adoption.”

“More importantly, the government should end its embarrassing crusade against international scrutiny, recognize the magnitude of the country’s human rights crisis and cooperate towards a meaningful probe into extrajudicial killings,” it said.

iDEFEND said it expected the Philippine government “to vigorously oppose the measure, as government officials have been traveling to Europe to vilify and discredit Philippine human rights defenders, and to peddle fraudulent statements about the drug war to the international community.”

“The government delegations’ shocking behavior at the UNHRC has exposed their frustration at the failure of their year-long operation to bury the issue. Their curses and insults are only matched by the courage of Filipino human rights defenders who continue to raise the truth,” it added.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the rights council is needed to act immediateley as thousands of Filipinos are and continue to be killed in the Philippines, including minors such as 3-year-old Myka Ulpina. (READ: CHR: Minors killed in drug war ‘simply not collateral damage’)

The Philippines, it added, “should no longer be able to escape the scrutiny of the international community.”

“This Council can no longer stay silent in the face of the killing of thousands of men, women and children and the devastation of their families,” HRW said. “For children like Myka, and all the other victims, this Council should urgently ensure an investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines.”


Meanwhile, the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) said Dela Rosa’s comment on Ulpina’s death “further justifies CRC’s appeal to the UN Human Rights Council to immediately conduct an impartial investigation into numerous incidents and cases of human and child rights violations and abuses in the Philippines.”

“Without such action from the international community, the slaughter of Filipinos, mainly from the poor, would continue as shown by the ever-growing record of violations and abuses caused by the drug war and the culture of impunity in our country,” it added. – 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 impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.