Amnesty International report flags PHL human rights record
The Philippines’ human rights situation was marked by “increased lawlessness and violence” resulting from the government’s war on drugs, according to this year’s report on “The State of the World’s Human Rights” by Amnesty International.
THE STATE of human rights in the Philippines has been marked by “increased lawlessness and violence” resulting from the government’s war on drugs, according to this year’s annual report by human rights advocacy group Amnesty International (AI).
In its report on “The State of the World’s Human Rights” released Thursday, the Nobel laureate also noted Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “contempt” for human rights in his government’s anti-drug campaign, which was “characterized by mass killings, mostly of people from poor and marginalized groups, including children.”
“The deliberate, unlawful and widespread killings of thousands of alleged drug offenders appeared to be systematic, planned, organized and encouraged by the authorities, and may have constituted crimes against humanity,” AI further reported.
The AI report documented the state of the world’s human rights in 159 countries and territories during 2017. In the Philippines, Mr. Duterte was serving his first full year in that period.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as “chaired by the Philippines during 2017, (also) marked its 50th anniversary,” the reported noted. “ASEAN governments and institutions remained silent over the massive violations in the Philippines, Myanmar and elsewhere in the region. “
A separate statement by AI, on “( s) tate- sponsored hate spur( ring) new era of social activism,” quotes the group’s secretary-general, Salil Shetty, as saying, “The specters of hatred and fear now loom large in world affairs, and we have few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times.”
“Instead, leaders such as al- Sisi, Duterte, Maduro, Putin, Trump and Xi are callously undermining the rights of millions,” he added, referring as well to Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el- Sisi of Egypt, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Donald Trump of the United States, and Xi Jinping of China.
Regarding the Philippines, the report said in part, “Meaningful investigations into killings of alleged drugs offenders failed to take place; no police officers were known to have been held to account. Relatives of victims continued to be fearful of reprisals if they filed complaints against police.”
The report pointed out further that “(p)olice continued to rely on unverified lists of people allegedly using or selling drugs.”
“Despite evidence that police and gunmen with links to the police killed or paid others to kill alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions, authorities continued to deny any unlawful deaths,” the report also stated.
“Many drug users were forced into compulsory and inadequate treatment and rehabilitation initiatives, which prevented them from accessing essential health services and harm reduction programs,” the report noted as well.
It added that “attacks against human rights defenders increased” and cited in particular the case of detained opposition senator Leila M. de Lima ( see related story this page).
Of last year’s terror siege by the Maute group and Mr. Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, AI noted that while the Maute group targeted Christian civilians and committed other war crimes, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “detained and ill-treated fleeing civilians.”
“Their extensive bombing of militant- held areas of Marawi City wiped out entire neighborhoods and killed civilians, which highlighted the need for an investigation into their compliance with international humanitarian law,” the report stated.
Security forces were also accused of “torture and extrajudicial executions” during the conflict.
Martial law was extended last December for another year, with the report noting that it was imposed “amid concerns that military rule could allow for further human rights abuses.”
AI also gave an update on the government plan to reinstate the death penalty and to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
A bill to establish a National Preventative Mechanism in accordance with the Philippines’ obligations under the Optional Protocol to the United States Convention against Torture has yet to be adopted at the Philippine Congress, the report cited as well.
AI has been leading humanrights monitoring efforts in the Philippines since the Marcos dictatorship. The group was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. — main report by