Monday, 14 October, 2019

United Nations launches 'comprehensive' review of Philippine drug war

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attends a session of the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok Thailand Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attends a session of the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok Thailand
Patty Aguilar | 13 July, 2019, 23:30

The resolution, led by Iceland, secured the narrow backing of 18 states in the 47-member council, with 14 nations opposing it, and 15 countries abstaining.

The Philippines on Thursday, July 11 rejected a United Nations resolution that mandates a "comprehensive" worldwide review of the drug war that has been ongoing since President Rodrigo Duterte took office three years ago.

The resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to submit a report to the council on human rights in the Philippines by June next year.

"This resolution does not represent a triumph of human rights but a travesty of them", Garcia said, adding "there will be consequences".

The Iceland resolution expressed concern on reported cases of extrajudicial killings in line with the drug war, but also raised the issue of reported violations targeting critics and human rights defenders. The Philippines is a signatory to binding human rights treaties that allow for such mechanisms of investigation and accountability.

'This war on drugs, as we have repeatedly said, it's a sham war, he told a news briefing yesterday in Geneva.

Human rights groups say there is a pattern of executions, planted evidence and falsified reports, and a state unwilling to investigate widespread allegations of systematic abuses by police during the three-year-old crackdown.

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Locsin added that in light of this resolution, which was backed by several countries the Philippines considers allies including the United Kingdom and Australia, the foreign policy of the Philippines had shifted from "friend to all, enemy to none" to "friend to friends, enemy to enemies, and a worse enemy to false friends".

At the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Philippine delegates had lobbied furiously over the past week to try and prevent the resolution being passed and vehemently spoke out against its adoption on Thursday.

Philippine activists say tens of thousands of people are being killed as police terrorize poor communities, using cursory drug "watch lists" to identify suspected users or dealers, and executing many in the guise of sting operations.

The exact number of deaths in Duterte's violent war on drugs can not be verified, but at least 6,000 have died since he launched the campaign upon taking office in mid-2016, in operations the police said suspects were armed and fought back. Human rights activists say that figure is much higher. Police say her father, Renato, had used his daughter as a human shield.

Human Rights Watch's deputy Geneva director Laila Matar said it was a modest yet vital measure. "Let them state their objective and I will review".

On Thursday, Amnesty International applauded the resolution's adoption, saying it will provide hope for thousands of families grieving for the deaths of family members to this war on drugs.

Panelo said that if the president permitted the probe and if it is carried out impartially, it would only result in the humiliation of the investigators and those who backed the resolution.

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