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EU legislators' call: Int'l probe into Philippines' drug war

In this Feb. 25, 2015, file photo, members of the European Parliament attend a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels. AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File

MANILA, Philippines — The European Parliament called for an international investigation into "unlawful killings and other violations" in the Philippines linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

In a joint resolution adopted by plenary on Thursday, the chamber called for nations in the European Union to support the establishment at the United Nations Human Rights Council of a probe given the alarming rate of deaths by Philippine law enforcement sectors and vigilantes.

In the same text, members of parliament condemn the killings strongly and express "grave concern over credible reports to the effect that the Philippine police force is falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings, and that overwhelmingly the urban poor are those being targeted."

RELATED: What some international groups say about the Philippine war on drugs

The legislative body also called on authorities of the Philippines to "immediately carry out impartial and meaningful investigations into these extrajudicial killings and to prosecute and bring all perpetrators to justice."

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Saying the rhetoric of Duterte is a cause for concern, the chamber encouraged the Philippines to "adopt all necessary measures to prevent further killings."

The UN Human Rights Council orders independent fact-finding missions or investigations into situations deemed to have "serious violations" of international human rights law. In recent years, the council has mandated investigations into armed violence in South Sudan, clampdown on protests in Burundi, terrorism in Nigeria, conflict in Libya, Syria, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Findings of the investigations are the basis of further action by the UN and its security arms as well as international courts, including the International Criminal Court.

What the EU told the UN rights body

While the EU and the Philippines have enjoyed "traditionally close bonds" due to its common values and objectives, the EU took exception to the "very high number of killings" in the Duterte administration's campaign against drug crimes.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, an EU representative said that while the union recognizes the problem of narcotics in the Philippines, the policy has to be revisited to respect the rule of law and human rights.

"This must include the right to due process and safeguarding the right to life as well as the respect of the proportionality principle," the EU told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 14.

To date, more than 7,000 killings—both in police operations and by vigilante—have been recorded to be linked to the government's war on drugs.

John Collins, executive director of London School of Economics IDEAS International Drug Policy Project, told Philstar.com that misguided drug control policy is rendering the environment more violent.

"What we find is that aggressive enforcement often spikes violence by disrupting cartel structures, leading to fragmentation of operations whereby members of cartel go to war with each other for control of the organization or splinter into rival groups competing over turf," Collins said.

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