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Child killings spark calls for UN probe — Human Rights Watch

The mother (L) of teenager Carl Arnaiz, who was shot and killed after he allegedly robbed a taxi driver at gunpoint on August 17, cries during mass ahead of Arnaiz's burial at the Mater Dolorosa Parish in Manila on September 5, 2017. Philippine authorities said September 4 they would investigate allegations police tortured and murdered a second teenager following an earlier killing that sparked the largest street protests so far against President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. AFP/Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2, 5:27 p.m.) — Extrajudicial executions led by cops have international human rights group concerned that the latest killing of two children has reached a new level of depravity, stressing the need for a United Nations inquiry into President Rodrigo's bloody war on drugs. 

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the circumstances surrounding the gruesome death of Kian delos Santos, 17 and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14, suggest that the authorities "deliberately targeted" the two.

“The apparent willingness of Philippine police to deliberately target children for execution marks an appalling new level of depravity in this so-called drug war,” said HRW Deputy Director for Asia Phelim Kine in a dispatch posted on their website Saturday.

“These killings demonstrate that Duterte’s rejection of the rule of law has made all Filipinos potential ‘drug-war’ victims, no matter how young,” he added. 

Delos Santos was among those killed in a purported shootout with Caloocan City cops on August 6 for his alleged involvement in drug trade. Witness accounts and a security video footage refuted the police claims, with forensic tests results indicating that the eleventh grader was intentionally killed while lying face down.

Two days after the horrific death of Delos Santos, De Guzman and his companion, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19 went missing after leaving their home in Cainta, Rizal to buy midnight snacks. Arnaiz was found dead 10 days after in a morgue in Caloocan City, where he allegedly robbed a cab driver and engaged arresting officers in a shootout.

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De Guzman's body, on the other hand, was just found on September 5 in a creek in Nueva Ecija, around four hours drive away from his home. His face was wrapped with tape and cloth, with over 20 stab wounds riddled his body.

HRW warned that the mandatory drug testing program on college students will pose risks to children. 

"This will effectively allow the police to extend their abusive anti-drug operations to college and university campuses, placing students at grave risk," said Kine.

He said the willingness and capacity of Philippine authorities to conduct a fair and impartial is questionable since lawmen implicated in killings continue to get away with murder. 

Kine also stressed the need for the UN Human Rights Council to press the Philippine government to accept an independent international investigation and to hold those responsible for the extrajudicial killings.

“A fundamental obligation of every government is to protect the lives of its children, not to empower police and their agents to murder them,” Kine said. 

“Until Duterte ends his abusive drug war and allows a UN-led international probe, child-killers among the police will continue to get away with murder,” he added.

According to the Children's Legal Rights and Development Center, as quoted by HRW, the killings of Delos Santos and De Guzman brought the number of children killed by police and vigilantes to 54 since Duterte assumed office in July last year.

RELATED:

What we know so far: Killing of Carl Arnaiz, 19

What we know so far: Killing of Reynaldo de Guzman, 14

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