UN rights council urged to step in to end ‘unlawful killings’ in PH
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) should intervene in the Philippines’ bloody campaign against illegal drugs and do what it takes to end the violence, a human rights group said as 39 states expressed serious concern over the increasing number of drug-related deaths in the country.
New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the UNHRC to step into the deadly campaign and support an international probe into the killings.
“The Philippines has so far shown itself unwilling to heed the calls to end this murderous campaign and hold those responsible to account,” HRW Geneva Director John Fisher said in a statement issued Thursday night.
“The Human Rights Council should step in, and do all that it can to end the violence, support an international investigation into the deaths, and demand accountability for all unlawful killings,” he added.
Iceland on Thursday delivered a joint statement on behalf of 39 countries expressing “serious concern” over the mounting number of killings in the Philippines and the climate of impunity associated with the violent anti-illegal drug campaign.
“We urge the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to bring these killings to an end and cooperate with the international community to pursue appropriate investigations into these incidents, in keeping with universal principles of democratic accountability and the rule of law,” it said.
The countries issued a statement days after the UNHRC concluded its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines, wherein state parties forwarded a total of 257 recommendations, only 103 of which were accepted by the Philippine government.
Several of the recommendations pertaining to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs were merely noted, including Ghana’s suggestion to allow UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard to visit the country and conduct an independent probe without interference and conditions that could compromise her impartiality.
The Philippines denied in the report that extrajudicial killings associated with the anti-illegal drug campaign take place, and the thousands of deaths were results of “legitimate law enforcement operations.”
However, Malacañang maintained on Friday that the UNHRC “unanimously accepted and commended the Outcome Report on the Philippines’ UPR .
“Unfortunately, it still appears that some parties refuse to understand certain aspects of our human rights efforts,” Presidential Spokesperson Abella said in a statement.
He also denied that culture of impunity exists in the Philippines and the country’s justice system “does not tolerate any state-sponsored extrajudicial killings.”
“So let us be clear. There is no culture of impunity in the Philippines,” he said.
The Palace official assured the government was investigating allegations of human rights violations under the Duterte administration.
“The State is investigating all credible allegations of human rights violations by all its agents and will continue to do so, consistent with our constitution and laws, and in compliance with the spirit of our national traditions of liberty and democracy,” he said.
Abella said that until the accusations of extrajudicial killings and circumventing police procedures are proven in a competent court, such claims remain as “hearsay.” He vowed that the Duterte administration would protect its people from criminals and injustice.
“In conclusion, rest assured that we will be unswerving in carrying out our duty to protect our people from the scourges of drugs, corruption and criminality so that with inclusive development and social justice, they may attain lives of dignity in a prosperous nation,” he said.
“To achieve these ends, we will always be happy to accept the help of our foreign friends. But we will never accept dictation on how we are managing our own internal domestic processes,” he added. /idl
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