UN Human Rights Report Highlights Unlawful Killings in the Philippines

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, reports that widespread human rights abuses and torture in the Philippines continue to be carried out with impunity across the country. Bachelet’s report has been submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has claimed thousands of lives. Official government figures last year put the number at nearly 6,000. Human rights organizations claim more than 20,000 have been killed since 2016, mostly by the country’s security forces.

UN human rights chief Bachelet noted several small steps were being taken to prevent extrajudicial killings. The move includes the use of mandatory body-worn cameras and alternative recording devices in police operations.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet

Despite these steps, Bachelet said she continues to receive troubling reports of gross human rights abuses and torture, including killings by security forces and police in counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency operations.

“Kills by suspected vigilantes also continue to be reported, with almost no information on any form of accountability. We have also received reports of abuses by the ‘New People’s Army’ of the Communist Party of the Philippines, including the killing of civilians, recruitment of children, and extortion,” said Bachelet.

Bachelet condemned the harassment, threats and killing of human rights defenders and other activists. He said security forces and other violators were rarely held accountable for these crimes.

“I am still deeply concerned by the continuing reports of so-called “red flags” against human rights and environmental defenders, journalists, trade union activists, church workers, and humanitarian workers publicly branding them Communists to discredit their human rights work. and support attacks against them,” he said.

The High Commissioner called on all parties to end the bad rhetoric that endangers the lives and well-being of civilian activists. He said attacks on independent media, condoning extrajudicial killings and other abuses and abuses must stop.

He noted the move was especially important now that the Philippines is heading into an election year when political rhetoric can turn violent. Philippine presidential and vice presidential elections will be held next May as part of the country’s general election. [my/lt]

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