Australia urges Philippines: Stop extrajudicial killings


MANILA, Philippines — Australia voiced its concern over human rights violations in the Philippines as the Philippine government continues its anti-narcotics campaign.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Monday urged Manila to stop extrajudicial killings and allow drug suspects to have face time with the local courts.

"The Australian government is concerned about ongoing reports of human rights violations in the Philippines and we are monitoring the situation closely," Bishop was quoted in the Australian Financial Review report as saying.

"We urge the government to ensure the cessation of extrajudicial killings and offer all Filipino citizens their rights according to the country's criminal justice system," Bishop added.

The Philippines and Australia enjoy a comprehensive bilateral partnership and ties of 70 years. Australia's statement condemning the killings followed similar calls by the United Nations, United States, European Union and United Kingdom, among others.

More than 3,500 people have died in police operations and in vigilante killings since the start of Duterte's term. The killings by unknown assailants are seen by experts as a result of enforcement-heavy drug policies that make the markets violent as crime bosses compete over turf. Administration officials, however, denied allegations that drug suspects are deprived of due process, saying the killings were cops' acts of self-defense .

On Friday, Duterte told an audience of cops in Davao City not to mind criticisms from human rights bodies in trying to rid the country of the scourge of drugs.

"Huwag kayong makinig d'yan sa (Don't listen to) human rights (groups), because human rights is always the anti-thesis of government," Duterte said. — Camille Diola

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