GENEVA – As the United Nations casts a magnifying glass into the reported upsurge of extra-judicial killings in President Duterte’s war-on-drugs, the international community reacted with demands to an end to EJKs in the country.
According to a www.inquirer.net report, diplomats from all continents condemned the report on EJKs in the anti-drug operations of the Philippine National Police since Duterte assumed the presidency last year.
The report added that the Philippines is one of 14 countries currently under review by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNRC) for its human rights record. This is part of the UNRC process known as the Universal Periodic Review of all UN member states.
The Philippines currently has a seat on the 47-member council, which also includes Britain, China, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United States, the report said.
The Philippine’s war on drugs and the Duterte administration’s moves to restore the death penalty went up for discussion on May 1.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano led the Philippine delegation to the review and who defended Duterte’s human rights record, stressing that government “seeks to uphold the rule of law”
He blamed critics of the President for the smear campaign against the drug operations of the PNP.
“One: There is no state-sponsored killing in the Philippines. Two: There is no sudden wave of killings,” Cayetano said to the council.
“We are asking you — through the mechanisms of this honorable council — to interview our people, to go to our communities, to visit the Philippines and to see for yourself: The truth, the real numbers,” he said.
“At all times, the Duterte government seeks to uphold the rule of law,” he added.
The Duterte administration also questioned the figures presented by the US-based Human Rights Watch which said there were 7,000 suspected drug dealers since Duterte took office.
“The UN review of the Philippines is critical because of the sheer magnitude of the human rights calamity since President Duterte took office last year,” said Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director. “Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has been nothing less than a murderous war on the poor,” he claimed.
After Cayetano’s presentation, other delegates were allowed a minute to comment and make recommendations.
The Chinese delegate cited Cayetano’s “very convincing” remarks and challenges faced by China and other “developing countries” to fight the drug trade while a number of western countries raised concerns about the violence being perpetrated against journalists as well as prospects of reinstating the death penalty.
Canada told Cayetano to “end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture and harassment.”
Deputy Permanent Representative Tanya Bennett of Australia said her country was “deeply concerned” about the reports of extrajudicial killings linked to the “so-called war on drugs, noting credible allegations of involvement by elements of the Philippine National Police,” the report added.
Delegations from Brazil, France and Ghana, among others, made identical remarks.
Germany’s envoy called for the Philippines to take “all necessary measures” to stop extrajudicial killings, and the Vatican said reports of enforced disappearances were “deeply troubling.”
Cayetano assured the delegates that the administration was “committed to end the killings and crimes or at the very least suppress it to the bare minimum.”
“Killings are not happening because of the campaign against illegal drugs but killings grew because of crimes and illegal drugs,” he said.
By: Sam Bautista