Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines

philippinesOpen letter from civil society calling on UN drug control agencies to take urgent action

Dianova signs the open letter from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) to request that the Office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to condemn extrajudicial killings of people suspected of consuming or trafficking drugs in the Philippines and ask for their immediate halt to these killings. UNODC and INCB are the competent authorities in international drug control. (More information)

Excerpts from the open letter published today

704 people have been killed between the 10th of May 2016 to the 29th of July 2016, as reported by a media outlet monitoring the number of drug-related deaths, ABS CBN News. These killings have reportedly taken place in several parts of the country, including Manila, Bulacan, Cebu, Rizal, Abra, Bataan, Pangasinan and Cavite, and carried out by police or “unidentified hitmen”. The rapidly rising number of deaths occurring on a daily basis is the direct result of President Duterte’s campaign to eliminate drug-related problems in the country.

Mr. Rodrigo Duterte won the presidential election held in the Philippines on 9th May 2016, and was inaugurated as president on 30th June 2016. Since his election campaign, Mr. Duterte has repeatedly urged law enforcement agencies, the public at large and even the Communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) to kill people suspected of dealing or trafficking drugs as well as people who use drugs, as part of his pledge to end criminal activity within three to six months in the Philippines. Although Mr. Duterte said in his inauguration speech that “[m]y adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising” and “the Republic of the Philippines will honour treaties and international obligations,” he has made public statements which incite extrajudicial killings and contradict his stated intentions to comply with the Philippines’ human rights obligations.

Despite reports of killings that involve no violent resistance, the President, Solicitor-General and Chief of Police have assured law enforcement officers that they will be protected against conviction of criminal offenses in the discharge of their anti-drug related duties, thereby implying impunity for extrajudicial killings. (…)

It is of critical importance for the UNODC and INCB as global authorities on international drug control to demand an end to the atrocities currently taking place in the Philippines, and to state unequivocally that such actions do not constitute acceptable drug control measures. We call on the UNODC and INCB to communicate strongly with the Philippines Government the following messages:

  • President Duterte’s actions to incite these extrajudicial killings cannot be justified as being in line with global drug control. All measures taken to control drugs in the Philippines must be grounded in international law
  • Request that President Duterte put an immediate end to incitements to kill people suspected of committing drug-related offences
  • Encourage President Duterte to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the right to due process and a fair trial is guaranteed to all people suspected of committing drug-related crimes, in line with the conclusions of the 2016 UNODC World Drug Report
  • Promote an evidence-based and health-focused approach to people who use drugs, including voluntary treatment and harm reduction services, instead of compulsory detention, in line with UNODC’s guidance
  • In line with the international human rights obligations of the Philippines – and with the official position of both the UNODC and the INCB – call on the Philippines not to re-impose the death penalty for drug offences.