300 NGOs ask int’l bodies to condemn killings of drug suspects

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/02 August) – A New York-based human rights group and over 300 other nongovernment organizations have urged the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to condemn the “alarming surge in killings of suspected drug users or dealers in the Philippines”.

In a statement Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said these NGOs have written a letter asking the two global authorities on drug control to call for an immediate halt to the killings.

In a joint letter, members of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) urged international drug control agencies to state unequivocally that such killings “do not constitute acceptable drug control measures.”

IDPC is a network of nongovernmental organizations that focuses on issues related to drug production, trafficking, and use.

“International drug control agencies need to make clear to Philippines’ President Rodrigo 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,” the statement quoted Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at HRW as saying.

“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,” Kine emphasized.

HRW noted that official statistics “support assertions of an alarming increase in police killings of drug-related criminal suspects”.

It cited that Philippine National Police data indicate that police killed at least 192 such criminal suspects between May 10 and July 10. It said 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.

At his inauguration and State of the Nation Address (SONA) Duterte underscored the campaign against illegal drugs as a cornerstone of his presidency.

During his SONA Duterte assured the government will observe the rule of law and protection of human rights in the campaign against illegal drugs. But he added “human rights must work to uplift human dignity”.

“Human rights can’t be used as shield or excuse to destroy the country, your country and my country,” he said, alluding to criticisms that law enforcers might have violated due process in dealing with drug suspects.

In the letter, the consortium calls on the UNODC and INCB to communicate the following messages to the Philippines government:
1.Assert that 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;
2.Request that President Duterte put an immediate end to incitements to kill people suspected of committing drug-related offenses;
3.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;
4.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; and
5.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 offenses.
“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.” (MindaNews)