Hopes high for Senate, CHR probes of killings
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday expressed hope that the investigation by the Senate and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) into the rise of drug-related killings would help put a stop to further attempts at summary justice.
Phelim Kine, the group’s deputy Asia director, said the independent probes “will hopefully shed light on the circumstances of the recent increase in police killings of suspected drug dealers and users and help prompt the government and the police to ensure that criminal suspects are provided due process rather than summary ‘justice.’”
In a statement, he noted that by launching each of their inquiries into the killings, the Senate and the CHR were performing a duty that the new administration and the Philippine National Police had basically refused to do.
Sen. Leila de Lima announced on Wednesday that the Senate inquiry, to start in August, will focus on “specific cases of suspected summary execution” by the police.
For its part, the CHR has launched its own “test probe” of 103 suspected extrajudicial killings, including 33 deaths of suspected drug dealers and users at the hands of police.
“These investigations are urgently needed,” Kine said.
The HRW cited the observation of Philippine human rights groups on the “surge of extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals and drug offenders” since President Duterte took office on June 30.
According to the Inquirer’s twice-weekly “Kill List,” which tallies the killings of suspected drug dealers and users by police and unidentified vigilantes, records show a “marked and unmistakable” rise in such killings—420 deaths since Duterte was sworn in.
Official statistics support assertions of an alarming increase in police killings of drug-related criminal suspects, the HRW said.
PNP data indicated that police killed at least 192 criminal suspects between May 10—the day after Duterte was elected—and July 10.
“That dwarfs the 68 killings of suspects that police recorded during ‘antidrug operations’ between Jan. 1 and June 15,” the HRW said.
The human rights group said police officers who claimed that the suspects they killed had “resisted arrest and shot at police officers,” generally could not provide further evidence that they acted in self-defense.
Established in 1978, the HRW is an international nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights.
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