Amnesty Int’l urges Asean leaders to condemn killings in PH
International human rights group Amnesty International (AI) has called on the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-states to take a united stand against the spate of drug-related killings in the Philippines, which hosts this year’s regional summit in Manila.
Champa Patel, AI director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, urged Asean leaders to determine whether what the group called as “mass killings” in the Philippines constitute a “serious breach” of the Asean charter, particularly non-compliance to the pledge on human rights.
“While they meet in their comfortable surroundings, Asean leaders should spare a thought for the thousands of people who have been killed as part of Duterte’s brutal crackdown. The vast majority are from marginalized and neglected communities, making it effectively a war on the poor,” Patel said in a statement.
“As the death toll mounts, so does evidence of the Philippines authorities’ role in the bloodshed. That the Philippines is chairing the Asean Summit against this horrifying backdrop is a scandal, and should prompt the government to make independent and effective investigations into unlawful killings an immediate priority. They must send a clear message that there will be accountability and an end to such shocking violations,” he added.
Leaders and diplomats of the 10 Asean member-states were expected to arrive starting Wednesday for the 30th Asean summit in Manila.
In an open letter, the global rights group also urged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to “send a clear public message to all law enforcement officials that extrajudicial executions are unacceptable,” “prioritize prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all drug related killings,” and “press criminal charges in any case where investigations uncover sufficient evidence of responsibility for offences.”
“Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the widespread, and continued killing of alleged drug offenders may constitute crimes against humanity. High-ranking government officials, and in particular the Philippines President, have explicitly and repeatedly incited police, as well as private citizens, to kill people they suspect of using or selling drugs, rather than acting in accordance with national laws,” the letter read.
“Until now, it is unclear how many police, and unknown armed persons, have been investigated, let alone charged for suspected extrajudicial executions, and other serious human rights abuses. Counter-narcotic operations and other law enforcement practices based on the use of force and a militarized approach are not the solution to drug crime, and have instead been shown to increase levels of violence, intimidation and corruption usually associated with drug markets,” the group added.
AI also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate a preliminary investigation into “unlawful” killings in President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs and campaign against criminality under the Rome Stature, “including the involvement of government officials, irrespective of rank and status.”
A case of crime against humanity against Duterte and 11 other officials was filed before the ICC by lawyer Jude Josue Sabio, counsel of confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato.
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