World, Asia - Pacific

Philippine drug war is crime against humanity: Amnesty

Global rights watch dog releases fresh report calling for UN probe into extrajudicial killings of Duterte government

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 08.07.2019
Philippine drug war is crime against humanity: Amnesty file photo


The Philippines government is accused of "committing crimes against humanity" with its so-called "war on drugs", which Manila sees the sole way to get rid of the devastating situation of drag trafficking in the country. 

Amnesty International said in a report on Monday that the government of President Rodrigo Duterte continued to act as a "large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price."

Manila is accused of thousands of extra-judicial killings in Duterte’s drug war.

"[The report] shows police operating with total impunity as they murder people from poor neighborhoods whose names appear on manufactured ‘drug watch lists’ established outside of any legal process," the rights group said in a statement.

According to Amnesty, the Philippine government acknowledged at least 6,600 killings at the hands of police, whereas rights groups and opposition politicians say more than 20,000 people have been killed by police since Duterte came in to office in 2016.

Calling for a UN-led probe into extra-judicial killings, Amnesty said: "The wave of police killings triggered by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous anti-drugs campaign continues to rage on, destroying lives and devastating communities."

"The UN must immediately open an investigation into gross human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed as part of the ‘war on drugs’," said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia.

Bequelin called on the UN Human Rights Council to "act decisively" to hold Duterte and his government "accountable".

The report said killings held a pattern. "It’s so consistent, it’s a script. In fact, when you see the report, it looks like a template," the statement said.

The Philippines government had prepared so-called "drug watch lists" compiled by authorities outside legal procedures, it added.

"This insatiable and vicious system rewards blind compliance and murder," it said.

The report links transfer of police officials to rise in number of killings allegedly related to the "war on drugs".

"Commanders who previously held posts in Metro Manila -- formerly the deadliest region for drug-related killings -- have been promoted to senior roles in Bulacan and the wider Central Luzon region.

"The transfer of senior police officials to regions where killings then surged is an alarming indicator of impunity," the report notes.

It added that the Philippine government has evaded all attempts to scrutinize human rights violations committed in the context of its widely-criticized actions to end drug trafficking.

The International Criminal Court launched a preliminary examination into the anti-drug campaign in February 2018, though Manila pulled out of the court’s statute last March.

"The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court must expedite its examination into the situation and open a full and thorough criminal investigation," Amnesty said.

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