Saturday, February 4, 2017

Rights groups condemn extrajudicial killings in Philippines

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[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] have criticized the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines as part of the war on drugs in the country. AI released [AI report, PDF; press release] a report on Tuesday related to AI's investigation into the killings. HRW called Monday for the UN to begin an investigation [press release] into the killings, which have so far claimed more than 7,000 lives in the Philippines since July. According to the groups, Philippines police have not provided any evidence regarding claims that the 2,551 suspected drug dealers and users that were killed by the police resisted arrest or shot at the police. There are also no investigations into the thousands of other deaths related to "death squads," which are believed to include police in civilian clothes. AI has called the killings a war on the poor. Most of those killed are poor and their names are typically sent to police on unverified lists. Many are reported to have been killed while attempting to surrender and many witnesses have also reported valuables being stolen from the houses of those killed by the police. Police are reportedly awarded between $161 and $302 for each suspected drug user or dealer that is killed. Some contract killers are reportedly paid $100 for each drug user killed and $200-$300 for each drug pusher killed. The anti-drug campaign was put on hold on Monday to investigate corruption within the police, but this investigation is meant to only purge police officers involved in the illegal drug trade, and is not meant to provide any accountability into the killings.

During Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign last year, he had stated 100,000 people would die [Guardian report] in his crackdown on crime. In December the UN rights chief urged [JURIST report] a murder investigation into Duterte after Duterte stated that he had killed three suspected criminals while he was mayor. In October the International Criminal Court [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the rising occurrence of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in connection with the ongoing war on drugs. In September Duterte declared a "state of lawlessness" [JURIST report] in the Philippines, which would allow police and military personnel to frisk individuals and search cars. In August Duterte named [JURIST report] 150 serving and former state officials connected to the nation's illegal drug trade and ordered them to either surrender to the authorities or risk being hunted down. Duterte has stated that he disregards criticisms from the UN and human rights groups. Also in August Duterte threatened to withdraw [JURIST report] the country from the UN following criticisms against his controversial crackdown on illegal drugs.

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