Philippines: Global drug authorities should call for end to suspect killings – HRW
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Philippines: Global drug authorities should call for end to suspect killings – HRW

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (HRW) has called on global authorities overseeing international narcotics control to seek an immediate halt to the killings of suspected drug dealers in the Philippines as the body count rises within the first month of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency.

The group said the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) should urgently condemn the alarming surge in killings of suspected drug users or dealers in the country.

HRW’s call was made in a joint letter drafted by the International Drug Control Consortium (IDCC), a network of nongovernmental organizations that focuses on issues related to drug production, trafficking, and use.

The letter was signed by Human Rights Watch and more than 200 other organizations.

The consortium urged international drug control agencies to state unequivocally that such killings “do not constitute acceptable drug control measures.”

The woman clutches her dead husband in grief after armed assailants in a motorcycle shot him in a main thoroughfare on July 23, 2016 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

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Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said 465 deaths have been recorded between June 30, 2016, the day Duterte assumed office, and August 1.

“International drug control agencies need to make clear to Philippines’ President Roderigo Duterte that the surge in killings of suspected drug dealers and users is not acceptable ‘crime control,’ but instead a government failure to protect people’s most fundamental human rights,” he said in a statement today (Tuesday).

“President Duterte should understand that passive or active government complicity with those killings would contradict his pledge to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law.”

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The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s “Kill List,” which is published twice weekly and tallies the killings of suspected drug dealers and users by police and unidentified vigilantes, has recorded a “marked and unmistakable” rise in such killings.

HRW also pointed out official statistics also support assertions of an alarming increase in police killings of drug-related criminal suspects. Philippines National Police data indicate that police killed at least 192 such criminal suspects between May 10 and July 10.

That death toll in the two months following Duterte’s electoral victory dwarfs the 68 killings of suspects that police recorded during “anti-drug operations” between January 1 and June 15.

Police have attributed the killings to suspects who “resisted arrest and shot at police officers,” but have not provided further evidence that the police acted in self-defense.

“International drug control agencies can play an invaluable role in halting the rising body count of suspected drug dealers and users killed by both police and unidentified vigilantes,” Kine said.

“The current status quo in the Philippines puts human rights, rule of law, and the safety and security of Filipinos in immediate peril.”