Thursday, March 14, 2019

Deadly Tokhang drug war not a good model for the world

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PHL war on drugs not a good model for any country — UN rights chief
Published March 6, 2019 8:20pm

President Rodrigo Duterte's war on illegal drugs is not a good model for any other country to follow in stamping out the menace, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.

"The drug policies in place in the Philippines, and its lack of respect for rule of law and international standards, should not be considered a model by any country," Bachelet, former president of Chile, said in her address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the human rights situation around the world.

Bachelet also raised "extreme concern" by the Philippine Congress' consideration of measures to reintroduce the death penalty fro drug-related crimes, and to reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12, or even nine years old.

In her address, she said that several sources estimate that up to 27,000 people may have been killed in the implementation of the campaign against illegal drugs that started when Duterte assumed office in June 2016.

Bachelet said that despite "serious allegations of extra-judicial killings," only one case, "the widely reported killing of a teenage boy," has been subject to investigation and prosecution

"People who have fallen into the trap of drug reliance need help to rebuild their lives; drug policies should not be more of a threat to their lives than the drugs they are abusing," she said.

She urged the Philippine government "to adopt a public health approach, and harm reduction initiatives, that comply with human rights standards, as recommended to the 2016 General Assembly Special Session."

Bachelet also noted that "Special Rapporteurs of this Council have been subjected to threats; and opposition politicians, human rights defenders and journalists have been threatened, attacked and jailed."

In a separate Facebook post, Agnès Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the statement.

"It is important that the OHCHR takes full note of the massive human rights crisis in the Philippines and acts accordingly. This statement is a crucial step. The Philippines authorities must now respond effectively to the repeated denunciations of the situation in the country," she said.

Callamard called on the Philippine government anew to allow "independent and impartial investigations into the thousands of killings they have themselves attributed to the Philippines Police and Security Forces."

Duterte had repeatedly ignored criticisms from the international community on his campaign against illegal drugs, even vowing that it could be more bloody in the days ahead.

Bachelet took the post middle of 2018, replacing Jordan's Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, a critic of Duterte's anti-illegal drugs policy.

Then presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the administration sees better ties with the UN Human Rights Council with Bachelet at the helm.

"The entire community of states perhaps elected her for a reason, noting that no less than the United States has opted to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council," Roque had said.

"I think the election of this new High Commissioner for Human Rights must be a result of compromise and we're optimistic that we will have better relations with the new High Commissioner for Human Rights," he added.—LDF, GMA News.

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