UN draws flak over failure to investigate Philippine President’s “war on drugs”


  • The UN human rights council is being criticized over its failure to conduct an investigation regarding the massive extrajudicial killings that occurred in the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
  • Based on government data, Duterte’s “war on drugs” killed at least 8,663 Filipinos, 122 of which are children.
  • Experts and human rights groups had continuously called for an inquiry on the killings since Duterte came to power in 2016.

It was a “collective failure” ━ a description pointed to the UN human rights council’s negligence to have an investigation about the thousands of extra-judicial killings that happened in the Philippines under the infamous “war on drugs” crusade of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement, Amnesty International said the human rights council had “failed to advance justice for bereaved families,” adding that it let down “the brave human rights defenders, journalists and others who have engaged with the UN in good faith and pursue their work at huge personal risk.”

Based on government count, around 8,663 Filipinos were killed — at least 122 of these were children. Other figures suggest that those are undercounted as the exact number of the death toll is unidentified.

Initiated by Iceland and the Philippines, a resolution was passed on Wednesday that asked the UN human rights office to provide support for the country through “technical assistance.” It includes assistance on data collection of alleged police violations and domestic investigations.

The resolution acknowledged the partnership between the UN country team and Duterte’s administration with their efforts “to further broaden positive engagement with the United Nations system.”

Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said on Wednesday that the president is against useless force to solve crimes.

Critics, however, cited several remarks made by Duterte, that backed violence. During the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, Duterte told the police to implement strict measures on curfew. He even said “shoot them dead,” referring to the violators.

According to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, even though the country has engaged with the UN, the killings continue to thrive.

“Killings have not abated, harassments continue, ‘lawfare’ remains and non-cooperation persists as prevailing practice, specifically on investigation on killings resulting from the administration’s ‘drug war’,” the commission said.

In another statement, Human Rights Watch said the human rights council decision was a “collective failure” that “fails to reflect the gravity of the situation on the ground”.

“At the same time, it is quite clear that Duterte and the state forces behind the brutal campaign are not off the hook and will face continued examination,” added Laila Matar, deputy UN director for Human Rights Watch.

Since mid-2016, there was only one convicted case of a deceased drug suspect in a government manhunt.

Experts and human rights groups had continuously called for an inspection and analysis of the anti-drug movement that was championed by Duterte after winning the presidency in 2016.


Source: The Guardian

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