Amnesty International urges UN to investigate killings in Philippines's war on drugs

Amnesty International urges UN to investigate killings in Philippines's war on drugs
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Human rights group Amnesty International on Monday called for the United Nations to approve a resolution supporting a probe into extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s government has acknowledged more than 6,000 police killings in the name of stamping out the drug trade, and evidence indicates thousands more have been killed by police-linked private citizens, according to Amnesty International.

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“Three years on, President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ continues to be nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia. “It is time for the United Nations, starting with its Human Rights Council, to act decisively to hold President Duterte and his government accountable.”

Amnesty says that its investigation has identified at least 20 cases in which 27 people were killed, many of them apparent extrajudicial executions, across the Philippines’s Bulacan province between May 2018 and April of this year.

It follows a previous report published in January 2017 that alleged police had targeted the country’s poorest residents, recruited contract killers, planted evidence and stolen from people they killed.

“It is not safe to be poor in President Duterte’s Philippines,” Bequelin said in the statement. “All it takes to be murdered is an unproven accusation that someone uses, buys, or sells drugs. Everywhere we went to investigate drug-related killings ordinary people were terrified. Fear has now spread deep into the social fabric of society.”

The U.N.’s International Criminal Court previously announced it would investigate police tactics in the Philippines in February 2018, after which Duterte announced the nation would withdraw from the court’s statute, with the withdrawal taking effect last March.

“The organization is calling on the U.N. Human Rights Council to immediately initiate an independent, impartial and effective investigation into human rights violations in the ‘war on drugs,’ including the commission of crimes under international law,” the group states.

“Likewise, 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 International added.