Philippines: Fundamental policy shift needed to end murderous war on drugs

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12 October 2017, 14:41 UTC

Reacting to the news that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has reduced the police’s role in drug-related operations in favour of the Drug Enforcement Agency, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

The wave of unlawful killings, which may constitute crimes against humanity, will continue even if the shooters happen to be wearing different uniforms.

James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

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“Today’s announcement will have little meaningful impact as long as the Duterte government’s fundamental policy of supporting extrajudicial executions of drug suspects remains in place. The wave of unlawful killings, which may constitute crimes against humanity, will continue even if the shooters happen to be wearing different uniforms.

“President Duterte has pulled police off drug operations once before, in January this year, only to reinstate them a few weeks later. We are concerned that this too may be nothing but a short-term PR move in response to growing public outrage about the drug war’s many victims, which are overwhelmingly poor, and include children.

“The Philippines authorities must instead immediately signal a clear shift in policy to an approach that respects and protects human rights, and end its murderous ‘war on drugs’ once and for all. It is also crucial that there is accountability for the thousands of killings carried out already, many by police officers, and that those responsible are held to account.”

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