Issue of May 14, 2017
Mt. Province

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Leaders of int’l HR group asks DOJ sec to investigate EJKs
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

Call it wishful thinking, but heads of the internal human rights watchdog Amnesty International has written Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre to investigate extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

The letter, signed by AI heads in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan and the USA, urged Aguirre to send a strong message that killing of alleged drug offenders is never justified.

As a DOJ secretary, the AI asked Aguirre to investigate the killings; to make the result of the investigation public; thereafter prosecute those involved in the killings.

Citing the research the AI conducted, the group said many of these killings either directly involved the police or civilians who were hired by the police to kill.

Amidst the present administration’s unyielding war on drugs, the AI warned that the unsolved killings may already be a crime against humanity.

“Our research has shown that most of those that have been killed are men from urban poor communities, in effect making what is officially portrayed as ‘war on drugs’ a war on the poor,” the AI said pointing out that the killings has devastating impacts on children and other people orphaned by people suspected to be involved in drugs.

Instead of viewing drug use as a crime, AI said it should be treated as a public health concern.

“Anti-drug operations have violated the non-derogable right to life and undermined the people’s right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, forcing many of those who use drugs and who have not fallen to extrajudicial executions into involuntary and inadequate rehabilitation programs. This has also meant that testing and treatment services are inaccessible to the vast majority of drug users,” the AI explained in their letter to Aguirre.

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