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Int'l drugs board denounces Duterte's drug war

Police crime scene investigators under Jones Bridge in Binondo, Manila after police shot dead suspected drug dealers Cyril Raymundo, Eduardo Aquino and Edgar Cumbis in a “buy-bust” operation. December 5, 2016. Human Rights Watch/Carlo Gabuco

MANILA, Philippines — A top drug policy monitoring body joined the wave of international condemnation of the Philippines' war on illegal drugs, which it says goes against international drug conventions.

In its in its 2016 annual report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) also called the government’s attention on its plan to use death penalty as a tool in its fight against illegal narcotics.

A United Nations-affiliated agency, the INCB said that all efforts of governments should be undertaken within the due process of law.

“The Board wishes to bring once again to the attention of all Governments that extrajudicial action, purportedly taken in pursuit of drug control objectives, is fundamentally contrary to the provisions and objectives of the three international drug control conventions, under which all actions must be undertaken within the due process of law,” the report said.

The INCB said that it had issued a statement calling on the Philippine government to issue an immediate and unequivocal condemnation and denunciation of the killings of individuals suspected of involvement in the illegal drug trade.

In the same statement, the body said that it also called on the government to put an immediate stop to such actions and bring the perpetrators of such acts to justice.

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Amid the continuing push in Congress to reinstate the death penalty in the country, the board said governments take a step back before considering the move.

“The Board wishes to draw the attention of all Governments to its statements issued in March 2014 and in August 2016 on the subject and to reiterate its call to all States that retain the death penalty for drug-related offences to commute death sentences that have already been handed down and to consider the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences,” it said.

The INCB report came a day after the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its report condemning Philippine authorities for extrajudicial killings committed in the name of the country’s anti-narcotics efforts.

Global voices vs Duterte's policy

The HRW report said that President Rodrigo Duterte and his senior government officials could be held liable for crimes against humanity for their actions and statements inciting police officers and civilians to commit murders.

It said that Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald Dela Rosa, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Solicitor General Jose Calida could also be held liable for their statements and suggestions that seemed to have encouraged the slew of extrajudicial killings in the country. It also accused these three government officials of failing to conduct any meaningful investigation into the killings.

The HRW also panned the PNP, saying that patterns in the killings that transpired suggest police planning and involvement.

In February this year, Amnesty International, a London-based human rights watchdog, also released its annual report and blamed Duterte and other world leaders for the global retreat of human rights.

It said that the president was using perceived social problems to justice repressive government actions.

It added that in some cases police officers planted evidence against suspects to justify their killing.

The president is sensitive to criticisms of his pet government campaign.

On Thursday, the Palace hit back at HRW and called its observation that there was a "human rights calamity" in the country "thougtless and irresponsible."

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, a former evangelist, brushed aside the criticims of the drug war that has left 7,000 people dead in its wake and called on groups to do their work more "diligently before attempting to engage in propaganda."

He also stressed that the "war on criminality" was not a "war on humanity" but to a way to protect humanity from modern-day evil.

"To say otherwise is to undermine society's legitimate desire to be free from fear and to pander to the interests of the criminals," Abella said.

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