Int’l rights group: Duterte’s drug war packs jails to ‘breaking point’
An official of an international human rights group lamented that the “war on drugs” led by President Rodrigo Duterte has further exacerbated the already packed and deteriorating jails in the country.
In a statement, Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kine said that Duterte’s campaign has sown fear among drug users that thousands turn themselves in to authorities—packing jails that are already plagued with sanitation and health problems.
“The motivations of those who surrender are clear, say authorities: Fear of Duterte’s ‘war on drugs,’ which is linked to hundreds of police killings of suspected drug dealers and users as well as summary murders by unidentified vigilante-style killers.”
“While police are not detaining all of those who turned themselves in, the thousands who are now behind bars are pushing the capacity of jails and detention centers to the breaking point,” Kine said.
The Human Rights Watch has earlier conducted an investigation on the state of jails in the country where they found that these jails have failed to provide adequate amounts of food, poor nutrition and sanitation in compliance with United Nations standards.
Kine said that the Duterte administration should address the deplorable conditions of the country’s jails.
He also urged the firebrand President, who rose to the presidency with an anti-drug and anti-criminality platform, to publicly denounce extrajudicial killings.
“The government needs to recognize that its ‘war on drugs’ is an abusive and counterproductive approach to the complex problem of mitigating the public health consequences of illegal drug use.”
“Duterte can help calm fears by publicly denouncing unlawful killings and reiterating support for rule of law. Until that happens, expect yet more suspected drug dealers and users to seek the ‘safety’ of detention centers over the risk of death on the streets,” Kine said.
The sorry state of the Philippine jails has been put into fore and gained international attention after photos of packed jails were reported by the Agence France-Presse. RAM