UN Experts and Activists Call for Investigations on the War on Drugs in the Philippines

Windowofworld.com – Human rights experts and activists are calling for launching an international investigation into extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs in the Philippines. They also asked that the International Criminal Court, ICC, step up the initial investigation.

The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, said sanctions should be imposed on officials responsible for inciting murder or failing to prevent it.

Speaking on the panel, Callamard read out statements issued by 32 UN experts at the end of June, which he said were “still relevant” at a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In its June report, the United Nations said tens of thousands of people in the Philippines may have died in the war on drugs since mid-2016 amid “near impunity” against police and incitement to violence by top officials.

The UN report says the crackdown on drugs, launched by President Rodrigo Duterte after he won elections on a devastating crime platform, has been characterized by police orders and high-level rhetoric that might be interpreted as “permission to kill”.

Callamard urged the 47-member forum to carry out an international investigation in the field.

“I ask the International Criminal Court to prioritize the completion of the preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines,” he exclaimed as quoted by Reuters, Tuesday (22/9/2020).

He urged countries to apply sanctions against Philippine officials who have committed, incited or who have failed to investigate or prevent human rights violations including arbitrary killings.

The president’s chief legal adviser and a spokesman for the Philippine presidency did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in June that the repeated claims about impunity were baseless.

Iceland, in collaboration with the Philippines, is proposing a resolution for consideration at the Human Rights Council next week. But activists say the draft text calling for technical cooperation was weak because it failed to establish an international investigative mechanism.

“The Philippines is eager to get off the Human Rights Council agenda in any way but to actually improve the human rights situation on the ground,” said Laila Matar of Human Rights Watch.

Meanwhile Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International researcher, said: “Despite the increasing international attention over the years, the killings are continuing and it seems the blood trail will not stop.”

“Amnesty and others believe that the situation meets the threshold of crimes against humanity,” he said, urging the Hague-based ICC to complete its investigations this year.