Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ remains hot topic as Marcos admin faces UN rights review

Kristine Joy Patag – Philstar.fr

November 15, 2022 | 1:10 p.m.

MANILA, Philippines – The culture of impunity around the deaths in President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” – impunity that the government says does not exist – plagues the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as officials face a UN sign.

During the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines at the United Nations Human Rights Council, at least 12 countries took note of the human rights situation in the Philippines after thousands of people been killed in the “war on drugs”, with law enforcement claiming most drug suspects violently resisted arrest.

The UPR is a regular peer review mechanism of the HRC to assess member states’ compliance with their commitments to respect and promote human rights.

The representatives of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland and of Ireland all recommended that the Philippines take steps to ensure that those responsible for extrajudicial and summary executions linked to the “war on drugs” are held accountable.

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Canada recommended that the Philippines, whose delegation was led by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, “ensure that victims of the war on drugs have access to justice by investigating and prosecuting alleged illegal acts committed by law enforcement officials and expeditiously concluding related lawsuits proceedings.”

DOJ: Review of ‘War on Drugs’ Deaths Underway, National Processes Working

Remulla had previously reported to UNHRC that the Justice Department-led review board on “war on drugs” operations was still functioning and had referred 302 incidents to the National Bureau of Investigation for case-building.

The DOJ Secretary also said that the Philippines “has national accountability mechanisms and has worked to improve data collection, establish a national mechanism for implementation, reporting and follow-up on recommendations from the mechanisms.” Human Rights Council”, and that they are pursuing a “human rights-based illegal drug control programme.”

Recognition of human rights departs from statements by officials early in the Duterte administration that drug suspects and criminals are “not really” human.

Anti-drug operations continued under the Marcos Jr. administration and resulted in dozens of deaths. Police General Rodolfo Azurin, head of the Philippine National Police, said 32 people died in their operations while 14 others were killed in Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operations.

The Czech Republic suggested that the Philippines “undertake an independent investigation into extrajudicial executions related to the ‘war on drugs’, ensure accountability of perpetrators and legal remedies and reparations for victims and families”.

Back to the International Criminal Court?

The countries also urged the Philippines to consider joining the International Criminal Court, where families of victims of the “war on drugs” have accused Duterte and his officials of committing crimes against humanity.

Austria said it regretted the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC, as they recommended the Marcos government reinstate the Rome Statute and “ensure the enactment into law of the Human Rights Protection Bill”. man, edit [Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020] to comply with international human rights standards, support for children whose parents have died as a result of the “war on drugs” has added compensation. »

Ireland also reminded the Philippines of its obligation to cooperate with ongoing investigations into alleged crimes against humanity committed during the Duterte administration.

But Marcos, who stressed “the importance of ensuring high-level accountability” for human rights abuses while still president-elect, has already dashed hopes of the country joining the ICC.

Just five weeks into his presidency, Marcos said the country “has no intention of joining the ICC”.

Lawyer Kristina Conti, counselor for the families of victims of the “war on drugs”, said in a precedent Philstar.com report that Marcos’ decision “[deprives] Ordinary Filipinos of an opportunity and a last resort for crimes against humanity, which are most often crimes committed by the state or massive political forces. »

“If Marcos also chooses not to cooperate with the International Court’s investigation supported and demanded by many Filipinos, he will face a political storm of international impact,” she added.

Jessica C. Bell