Philip­pine lawyers ask Supreme Court to halt ‘il­le­gal’ war on drugs

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

A GROUP of Philip­pine lawyers on Wed­nes­day filed an in­junc­tion with the Supreme Court to try to stop Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, call­ing it an il­le­gal cam­paign that lets po­lice kill and cir­cum­vent le­gal pro­ce­dures.

The govern­ment’s di­rec­tive for the fierce 15-month-old crack­down per­mits po­lice to “negate” and “neu­tralise” tar­gets, ef­fec­tively grant­ing them a li­cense to kill sus­pected users and deal­ers, with­out gath­er­ing ev­i­dence or build­ing a case, the lawyers said.

A prac­tice of com­pil­ing lists of “drug per­son­al­i­ties” and en­cour­ag­ing cit­i­zens to anony­mously pro­vide names was tan­ta­mount to draw­ing up a hit list, the pe­ti­tion said. It called for ju­di­cial in­ter­ven­tion in thou­sands of cases where Filipinos were killed by po­lice.

“The present war on drugs be­ing waged by the govern­ment is not go­ing to stop il­le­gal drugs, crime and cor­rup­tion,” Jose Manuel Dio­kno, chair­man of the Free Le­gal As­sis­tance Group (FLAG), told a news con­fer­ence.

“(It) will only re­sult in the killing of more and more peo­ple, es­pe­cially the poor.”

The pe­ti­tion comes as public scru­tiny in­ten­si­fies on Duterte’s sig­na­ture cam­paign, which he in­sists will not stop, re­gard­less of the blood­shed. He says he is pre­pared to go to jail to pro­tect Filipinos from crimes fu­elled by ad­dic­tion.

Duterte re­jects crit­i­cism that his no­to­ri­ously bel­li­cose public re­marks have been in­ter­preted by some po­lice as veiled in­struc­tions to kill drug users with im­punity.

Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) spokesman Dionardo Car­los said po­lice “wel­come the fil­ing of the pe­ti­tion be­fore the Supreme Court”. He did not elab­o­rate.

Though Filipinos are largely sup­port­ive of Duterte’s iron-fisted ap­proach, re­cent opin­ion polls in­di­cate public doubts that his drugs war is above board and ef­fec­tive as the govern­ment says. An­a­lysts say un­ease about the cam­paign has con­trib­uted to Duterte’s rat­ings de­cline.

PNP data shows 3900 peo­ple have been killed in op­er­a­tions in which po­lice say armed sus­pects vi­o­lently re­sisted ar­rest. Duterte’s op­po­nents and ac­tivists dis­pute that and say ex­e­cu­tions and cover-ups are com­mon­place, which po­lice deny.

The pe­ti­tion by FLAG, which is com­prised of around 200 pro-bono hu­man rights lawyers, was filed on be­half of three peo­ple whose rel­a­tives were killed by po­lice.

FLAG has also rep­re­sented two men who tes­ti­fied be­fore the Se­nate that they were part of an al­leged “death squad” that killed drug deal­ers and crim­i­nals at Duterte’s be­hest when he was Davao City mayor, long be­fore his pres­i­dency.

Duterte dis­misses the al­le­ga­tion as non­sense.

The lat­est pe­ti­tion seeks to com­pel the PNP and the in­te­rior min­istry to halt the cam­paign and wants killings to be ex­am­ined by the Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion, which would take charge of ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing guns that po­lice say were used by vic­tims.

It said house-to-house vis­its by anti-drugs po­lice fol­lowed un­ver­i­fied tip-offs from un­known in­for­mants and were not based on ev­i­dence. It ar­gues po­lice had no in­tent to per­suade sus­pects to sur­ren­der and would kill any­one who re­fused to co­op­er­ate or de­nied in­volve­ment.

“The govern­ment’s war on drugs is short-cut­ting the jus­tice sys­tem by dis­pens­ing jus­tice from the bar­rels of guns,” the pe­ti­tion said. – Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Jose Manuel Dio­kno, head of the Free Le­gal As­sis­tance Group, speaks to re­porters in Manila, Philip­pines, on Wed­nes­day, after fil­ing an in­junc­tion against the coun­try’s war on drugs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.