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Human rights advocates urge Duterte to stop extrajudicial killings

In this July 2016 photo, a policeman accused of being a drug pusher was tortured and killed while still wearing his police uniform in Meycauayan City in Bulacan. The STAR/Boy Cruz

MANILA, Philippines – Human rights advocates on Thursday joined forces calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately stop extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.

Citizens Council for Human Rights composed of groups such as World March of Women, Akbayan Youth, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and Kilusang Pambansang Demokrasya, among others, urged the president to respect the rights of drug suspects and follow due process and fair hearing on imposing their anti-drug campaign.

They said the Duterte administration's campaign for peace and order worsened lawlessness and violence.

The groups asked the local government and law enforcement units to stop unlawful methods of imposing the anti-drug campaign like the walk of shame. It added that those who violated human rights must be investigated.

The groups said they want the government to study and reform the criminal justice system in the country and make the standards of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies at par with the rule of law. They also sought to ease the process of reporting corruption and extrajudicial killings along with a study of government policies on drug addiction.

The group also asked the public to stop supporting death penalty.

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Last June 30, a group of human rights advocates converged and wrote an open letter to the president to promote civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights as well as maintain vigilance and alertness against human rights violations and impunity.

“Through documentation and monitoring, we will expose and condemn attempts and acts that encourage, condone, justify and even reward, perpetrators against human rights and the rule of law,” the open letter read.

Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kline earlier said the PNP and other law enforcement officials showed “disdain for basic rights” with statements saying they would defend the “legality of killings.” Kline said the “spike in killings of drug suspects places an extra burden on the Duterte administration to ensure police act within the law.”

“The National Union of People’s Lawyers, a nongovernmental organization that provides free legal services to victims of alleged human rights abuses, described the recent surge in police killings of criminal suspects as 'apparent serial summary executions' and called for them to stop,” Kline’s report read.

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