UN urged to probe deaths in Duterte's war on drugs

GENEVA • More than two dozen countries have formally called for a United Nations investigation into thousands of killings in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, activists said.

Iceland on Thursday submitted the draft resolution which was backed by mainly European states, they said.

The text urges the government to prevent extrajudicial executions and marks the first time that the Human Rights Council is being asked to address the crisis.

The Duterte government insists that the more than 5,000 suspected drug dealers killed by police in the anti-narcotics operations had all put up a fight.

But activists say that at least 27,000 have been killed since Mr Duterte was elected in 2016 on a platform of crushing crime. They say the latest victims include a three-year-old who was shot during a police raid last weekend.

"Here we are three years later, with 27,000 killed, among the most impoverished, in a massive crackdown. That is a conservative estimate," Mr Ellecer Carlos of the Manila-based group iDefend told Reuters. "In a non-armed conflict context, this is the worst case of extrajudicial killings globally," he said after urging the council to act.

The Geneva forum is to vote on the resolution before it ends its three-week session next Friday. The Philippines is among its current 47 members.

Mr Carlos conceded that Asian countries are unlikely to vote in favour of the text. But activists say the council and the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet must shine a light on the situation.

Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday that the government need not be told by anyone to stop extrajudicial executions, because killing suspects who did not put up a fight had never been its policy.

"Our government is prepared to face any inquiry if the same becomes necessary to disabuse the minds of those who rely on or give undue credence to selective, if not biased, second-hand information," Mr Guevarra told reporters.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'UN urged to probe deaths in Duterte's war on drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe