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Killings show ‘lawlessness not crime control’ – int’l group

Independent body sought to handle complaints about police abuses
/ 01:36 PM August 24, 2016
INQUIRER FILE / RAFFY LERMA

The spate of killings amid the government’s war on drugs show a breakdown in law and order and not crime control, according to Amnesty International. INQUIRER FILE / RAFFY LERMA

Amnesty International (AI) on Wednesday called on the Philippine government to form an independent commission that would handle complaints on possible human rights abuses by policemen amid the Duterte administration’s relentless war on drugs.

The group said the commission should be “free from the influence of the Philippine National Police.”

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“The commission should have the mandate to receive complaints and other reports of human rights violations committed by the police, be required to report publicly on its activities, and have the mandate and resources to provide any necessary protection to complainants, victims and witnesses,” AI said in a statement.

READ: ‘Don’t make war on drugs war on human rights’ | Bato: Police, military personnel also killed in drug war 

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The group said the rising death toll in the bloody antidrug drive was a “terrifying indication that the authorities are grossly failing in their obligations to respect and protect the right to life.”

“This risks the further breakdown of the rule of law in the country,” it said.

AI added, “The State has a duty to protect people from all forms of violence, including an obligation of due diligence to prevent killings and to promptly, independently and impartially investigate such killings and bring perpetrators to justice. Recent statements by high-level authorities and police directives have further endangered the right to life.”

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa said there had been 1,067 killings by unidentified individuals and 712 killings by police since July 1, when President Rodrigo Duterte took office. The Inquirer’s “Kill List,” notes 729 drug-related deaths from June 30 to August 22.

READ: THE KILL LIST

Amnesty International denounced the spate of killings as an indication of “lawlessness and not crime control,” as it called for prosecution within the bounds of the rule of law.

“People responsible for drug-trafficking offenses should be brought to justice through prosecution in a court of law, in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and comply with the rule of law. Safeguards on the right to liberty and security of person, including fair trial guarantees, must apply equally for drug-related cases. Incitement to violence and discrimination are prohibited under international law and risk escalating a cycle of violence in the country,” it said.

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“The unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of a state actor, or with the state’s complicity or acquiescence, is an extrajudicial execution. This is a crime under international law. States have an obligation to investigate and prosecute credible allegations of murder and extrajudicial executions and bring those suspected of criminal responsibility before justice in fair trials,” it added.

The group also said that the government should treat the issue of drugs as a “public health matter” and ensure that people who use drugs have access to essential health services.

“The Philippine authorities should further ensure the rights to life and health of people who use drugs are respected and protected by guaranteeing their access to health-related information and services on a non-discriminatory basis. Instead of inciting violence against people who have developed a dependency to drugs, the authorities should ensure they have access to medical care,” it said.

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TAGS: Amnesty International, drug war, Features, Human Rights, police abuses
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