UN to review brutal war on drugs in Philippines

A relative of a victim of an extrajudicial killing touches the portrait of the relatives during a memorial mass at the Philippine Human Rights Commission office in Manila on July 9, 2019.
A relative of a victim of an extrajudicial killing touches the portrait of the relatives during a memorial mass at the Philippine Human Rights Commission office in Manila on July 9, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA • The United Nations' top human rights body has narrowly passed a resolution calling for greater scrutiny of the war on drugs in the Philippines.

The Human Rights Council voted 18-14 yesterday, with 15 abstentions, to approve a resolution presented by Iceland, citing allegations of thousands of killings since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte began a brutal crackdown on the narcotics trade in mid-2016.

The resolution calls on the Philippines to "take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances". It also urges the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to prepare a written report on the Philippines for consideration at the Human Rights Council's summer session next year.

The Philippines immediately rejected the resolution.

"(We) cannot, in good conscience, abide by it. We will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said in a statement read by his representative in Geneva.

He then said in a tweet: "Actually, no effect."

"Such resolutions, especially those passed by a tiny minority, can and will be ignored."

But he warned that there would be "far-reaching consequences".

Human rights groups claim that tens of thousands are being killed in the Philippines, as police terrorise poor communities using cursory drug "watch lists" to identify suspected users and dealers, executing many of them under the guise of sting operations.

 
 

The government has rejected the claims, and says that those killed were armed and had resisted arrest.

It also insists that only about 6,600 drug suspects have died since 2016 - far lower than the figure of more than 25,000 which activists are presenting to the UN.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2019, with the headline 'UN to review brutal war on drugs in Philippines'. Print Edition | Subscribe