Amnesty International (AI) said leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations must consider whether the killings amount to a serious breach of ASEAN’s charter, particularly its pledge to uphold human rights.
AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
AI to Asean: Take stand vs Phl drug killings
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 27, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  An international human rights watchdog is calling on Southeast Asian leaders to take a stand against the Philippines’ war on drugs that has left thousands dead under President Duterte, the host of this week’s regional summit.

Amnesty International (AI) said leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations must consider whether the killings amount to a serious breach of ASEAN’s charter, particularly its pledge to uphold human rights.

AI said up to 9,000 people have been killed by police or unknown armed persons since July 2016. Officials said not all deaths being reported are drug-related while others were killed in legitimate police operations.

“As the death toll mounts, so does evidence of the Philippines authorities’ role in the bloodshed,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Patel said the Philippines’ chairing the ASEAN summit “is a scandal, and should prompt the government to make independent and effective investigations into unlawful killings an immediate priority.”

In an open letter to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, AI also called on authorities to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into all drug related killings and press criminal charges against suspects, regardless of rank or status.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said “the so-called extrajudicial killings are not state-sanctioned or state-sponsored.”

He said police conducting legitimate operations are required to follow protocols and those who breach them are made to answer before the law.

Abella said the Senate had conducted an independent investigation into the charges hurled against Duterte by a self-confessed assassin, and senators found no proof of state-sponsored killings.

On Monday, a Filipino lawyer presented documents to the International Criminal Court, which he said contain evidence of Duterte’s alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said yesterday the AI call for ASEAN leaders to condemn Duterte’s war on drugs would fall on deaf ears.

“Only those who are not against illegal drugs will listen to them,” Sotto said in a text message.

He said ASEAN leaders and a majority of Filipinos are supportive of the war on drugs. – AP

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