Int’l NGO airs concern about drug killings
New York-based Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P), an international nongovernment organization (NGO) advocating protection against mass atrocities, has voiced concerns about extrajudicial killings arising from a state-sanctioned war on drugs in the Philippines.
GCR2P—backed by international leaders such as Nobel laureates Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu as well as former President Fidel V. Ramos—cited the Philippines in its Oct. 20 publication “Atrocity Alert” as among the countries where populations were “at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.”
Iraq, Yemen and Central African Republic were also featured in this edition of “Atrocity Alert.”
“Under the current government, Filipinos are at growing risk of grave violations that may amount to crimes against humanity,” GCR2P said, adding its voice to a number of international institutions alarmed by alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines since President Duterte took office.
“The Senate and the House of Representatives are now dominated by President Duterte’s allies, allowing extrajudicial killings to continue without the prospect of due process or accountability under the formal justice system. While the government of the Philippines has sovereign authority to maintain law and order within their borders, including punishing those who traffic illegal drugs, they must do so with respect to international humanitarian and human rights law,” the NGO said.
“National authorities in the Philippines must take all necessary measures to restore respect for rule of law and immediately halt widespread extrajudicial killings,” it said.
The United Nations and the International Criminal Court should also continue to closely monitor the situation in the Philippines, the center said.
“States with strong economic and political ties to the Philippines, like the United States, must increase public and private diplomacy aimed at ending systematic extrajudicial executions,” it said.
In recent months, bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States have come under strain as Mr. Duterte felt insulted over US officials’ criticisms over his all-out war on drugs, which he felt was infringing on the country’s sovereignty.
The GCR2P lamented that Mr. Duterte had responded to international criticism “with derision.”
On September, the European Parliament condemned the spate of extrajudicial killings and urged an immediate end to the violence. UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide Adama Dieng has also called upon the President to “exercise restraint in the use of language that could exacerbate discrimination, hostility and violence and encourage the commission of crimes, which, if widespread of systematic, may amount to crimes against humanity.”
In October, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, declared that her office would closely monitor the situation.
Atrocity Alert noted that some 3,800 civilians have been killed in the drug war in the Philippines—around 2,200 in extrajudicial, or vigilante-style, killings and another 1,500 in police operations.
Fearing execution, almost 700,000 alleged drug dealers have surrendered to police while an additional 15,000 people have been arrested, it said.
“Unlawful violence against civilians shows no sign of abating,” the publication said, noting that the Philippine Senate committee announced that investigations of extrajudicial killings would be abandoned.
This was shortly after Sen. Leila de Lima was removed as committee chair after publicly criticizing the President’s campaign.
“In addition to police violence, unidentified gunmen continue to carry out targeted killings of alleged drug users and traffickers, as President Duterte has publicly encouraged vigilante groups to join his campaign,” the report said.
During a news briefing in Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella was asked about the killing of suspected drug users in the cities of Mandaluyong and Pasig on Monday night.
“It will undergo the normal processes of investigation,” Abella said.
On the eve of All Saints’ Day, six masked gunmen shot dead five people in a house, believed to be a drug den, in Mandaluyong. Hours earlier, a man was shot at close range by two men on a motorcycle in another drive-by shooting in Pasig City. —WITH A REPORT FROM MARLON RAMOS
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