* Extrajudicial executions by the police remain widespread
* The scale of human rights violations reaches the threshold of crimes against humanity
The wave of police-related killings triggered by deadly drug control by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continues to plummet, destroying lives and devastating communities, according to the report released by Amnesty International on July 8, 2019. The UN must immediately launch an investigation into gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity committed as part of this "war on drugs".
This new report entitled 'They just kill': Ongoing extrajudicial executions and other violations in the Philippines '' war on drugs '' shows that the police act with impunity when they kill poor neighborhood residents whose names appear on "traffickers' watch lists" established outside any legal framework.
The "war on drugs" led by President Rodrigo Duterte can be summed up in fact as an economy of large-scale murder to which the poor pay the highest price.
"For the past three years President Rodrigo Duterte's" war on drugs "has in fact been about a large-scale killing economy in which the poor pay the highest price, said Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director for the United States. East and South-East Asia to Amnesty International.
"It is time for the United Nations, starting with the Human Rights Council, to take decisive action to hold President Rodrigo Duterte and his government to account. "
The Philippine government has recognized at least 6,600 killings attributable to the police. There is evidence to suggest that several thousand others were killed by unidentified armed individuals who are likely to have links to the police.
Following the transfer of senior Manila police officers – hitherto the epicenter of homicides in the country – Bulacan province in the central Luzon region has become the bloodiest battlefield.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly defended his government's "war on drugs," arguing that those involved in drug trafficking are "criminals" and that their killing is "justifiable".
During its investigations, Amnesty International identified 20 cases in which 27 people were killed, most of them in the course of probable extrajudicial executions, in Bulacan province, between May 2018 and April 2019. In total, she interviewed 58 people, including witnesses of extrajudicial executions, families of victims, local elected representatives and human rights defenders.
This report is based on a previous Amnesty International survey, the findings of which were published in January 2017. It showed that the police systematically target poor and defenseless people across the country, producing "evidence" , hires hitmen, devalues victims and writes reports of false incidents.
"It's dangerous to be poor in the Philippines of President Rodrigo Duterte," said Nicholas Bequelin. To be murdered, it suffices to be accused without proof of consuming, buying or selling drugs. Wherever we went to investigate drug-related homicides, the people were terrified. Fear has penetrated deeply into the social fabric of society. "
Many homicides, the same practice
In every police operation analyzed by Amnesty International, the police cited the same justification, the "flag": an undercover drug operation in which armed suspects fired back, "triggering" the use of lethal force.
It's so consistent, it's a script. In fact, when you see the report, it looks like a template.
Families and witnesses have repeatedly refuted the stories of the police. In some cases, the victim never owned a weapon or was too poor to buy one, according to his relatives. In others, victims of drug-related homicides were first reported missing and, once the body was discovered, were suddenly and consistently classified by the police as deaths during an operation. flagrante delicto.
According to a Philippine forensic scientist interviewed by Amnesty International, police reports of operations aimed at trapping the traffickers she examined do not meet the minimum plausibility criteria: "It's so consistent, it's a script . In fact, when you see the report, it looks like a template. "
In the case of Jovan Magtanong, the police claimed that the father of three, aged 30, shot at them and found a 38 caliber and bags of illegal substances on the scene. According to witnesses, Jovan Magtanong slept with his children when police knocked on his door looking for another man. His family says he had no weapons and had not used drugs for more than a year.
"They killed him like an animal," said a family member.
"Trafficker Watchlists" become lists of targets to kill
In the majority of cases investigated by Amnesty International, victims appeared to appear on "traffickers' watch lists" established by the authorities outside any legal framework.
This insatiable and brutal system rewards blind adherence and murder.
These lists actually serve as a guide for the police to stop or kill. Local officials at the neighborhood level (barangay) are under pressure to obtain results by collecting the names of "consumers", "dealers", "financiers" and "protectors" in their area. Amnesty International considers these lists unreliable, illegitimate and unjustifiable. They are further proof that the government is targeting the poor and marginalized.
Amnesty International researchers interviewed local human rights investigators, barangay and others, who have confirmed that there is no way to have their name removed from the list – so monitoring and risk are perpetual.
"The government of Rodrigo Duterte has created a game of macabre figures, in which state officials draw up lists and manage them without worrying about whether the people who appear there actually consume or sell drugs. This insatiable and brutal system rewards blind adherence and murder, "said Nicholas Bequelin.
The responsibility of the police
The sharp rise in the number of unlawful killings in Bulacan province follows the transfer of senior police officers to positions in Metro Manila – the region that previously held the record for narcotics-related homicides – and promoted to high office in Bulacan province and the wider central Luzon area. One of them is the provincial director, the divisional commissioner Chito Bersaluna, chief of the police of the city of Caloocan at the moment when Kian delos Santos, 17, was shot dead in August 2017.
The transfer of high-ranking police to areas where homicides then exploded is a testament to their impunity.
Media from around the world shining the spotlight on this case, Chito Bersaluna was put on "administrative leave". No charges were brought against him, but three junior officers under his command were prosecuted and eventually convicted and sentenced.
"The transfer of high-ranking police to areas where homicides have exploded attests to their impunity," said Nicholas Bequelin. The government of Rodrigo Duterte is trying to deny and reject all responsibility, sinking ever deeper into lies. "
It's time for the UN to investigate
With the exception of the police officers convicted of the murder of Kian delos Santos, the Philippine authorities failed to conduct a credible investigation or prosecute those responsible for the unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions committed in the context of the drug operations.
Every time I see a picture of my son, my heart is like pierced.
Amnesty International's new report adds to growing evidence that human rights violations in the "war on drugs" in the Philippines are crimes against humanity.
The Philippine government is avoiding any attempt to examine human rights violations committed as part of its "war on drugs", widely criticized. The International Criminal Court opened a preliminary review of the anti-drug campaign in February 2018, but President Rodrigo Duterte quickly announced that the Philippines would withdraw from the Court's Statute, a withdrawal that became effective in March.
Victims' families, witnesses, lawyers, clerics and others have repeatedly expressed their desperation at the obstacles to justice, in the climate of total impunity in the country.
"Every time I see a picture of my son, my heart is as if pierced," the mother of a 20-year-old victim told Amnesty International. He wants me to fight for him, what can I do? "
Amnesty International has also noted that detoxification programs and treatment programs for drug users remain totally inadequate. Authorities need to significantly increase the availability of medical and social services to reduce the risks and harms associated with narcotics, and end their campaign of violence and fear.
Amnesty International Calls on the UN Human Rights Council to Immediately Launch an Independent, Impartial and Effective Investigation into Human Rights Violations Committed in the "War on Drugs", Including Law Crimes international.
Finally, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) must speed up the examination of the situation and open a thorough and complete criminal investigation.
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