Philippines: Human rights groups slam mass killings

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.

Civil society groups from across the globe, including prominent human rights NGOs, have called on United Nations drug control authorities to urge an immediate stop to the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders in the Philippines.

Since May 10, more than 700 people have been killed by police and vigilantes in the Philippines for being suspected of using or dealing drugs. The mass killings are a direct result of recently-elected President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign to eradicate crime within six months.

Until now, however, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) — the UN agencies responsible for global drug control — have failed to condemn the Philippines for these gross human rights violations committed in the name of drug control.

All up, 353 non-governmental organisations sent an open letter on August 2 to the UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov and INCB President Werner Sipp asking them to take immediate action aimed at putting a stop to the extrajudicial killings.

“We are calling on the UN drug control bodies to publicly condemn these atrocities in the Philippines”, said Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium. “This senseless killing cannot be justified as a drug control measure.

“Their silence is unacceptable, while people are being killed on the streets day after day.”

The open letter asks the UNODC and the INCB to call on Duterte to:
• Immediately end the incitements to kill people suspected of using or dealing drugs;
• Act to fulfil international human rights obligations, such as the rights to life, health, due process and a fair trial, as set out in the human rights treaties ratified by the Philippines;
• Promote evidence-based, voluntary treatment and harm reduction services for people who use drugs instead of compulsory rehabilitation in military camps; and
• Not reinstate the death penalty for drug offences.

[Reprinted from]