Callamard: DOJ-led review of 'drug war' deaths must go 'beyond who pulled the trigger'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Callamard: DOJ-led review of 'drug war' deaths must go 'beyond who pulled the trigger'
This photo shows a memorial with the names of the victims of extra-judicial killings.
Karapatan, Release

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government’s review of “drug war” operations that resulted in deaths must go beyond police officers who have killed and look into how they were emboldened to do so, UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said.

The benchmark for exacting accountability for killings and human rights violations in the country must also be also go beyond dismissing cops found to have committed them, she said.

"Being dismissed if you’ve killed people, that’s not acceptable," Callamard said, stressing that abusive police officers must be brought to court as well.

Speaking at the FOCAP 2021 Prospects for the Philippines Conference on Friday, Callamard said the Department of Justice-led review panel must focus not only on those who "pulled the trigger but those who emboldened to pull the trigger."

"Is the review panel prepared to tackle incitement? Is the review panel prepared to tackle those who have repeatedly said I have your back to killers in uniform?" the UN expert said.

Callamard added that the review panel must be prepared to integrate into its review the systems, the leadership at the highest level that allowed for what she said has become a policy.

She stressed there should be no limit in who may be included in the review, from the "president to police commissioners to anyone below and in between." Callamard added the review panel must also tackle whether the police were incited and even protected in any wrongdoings found by the review panel.

Initial findings have been sent to the Palace but have not been made public.

RELATED: Duterte government has no interest in probing themselves — global group

Access to review panel

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra himself informed the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2020 of the high-level review panel reviewing the more than 5,000 “drug war” operations that resulted in deaths.

The announcement of the creation of the review panel, with Duterte’s own men leading it, was met with doubts on its credibility and motivation, as rights groups said this may just be a “ruse” to avoid international scrutiny. Adding to questions raised against the panel’s work is the exclusion of the Commission on Human Rights in the preparation of its initial report.

RELATED: CHR: 'Drug war' review report credibility may suffer if done 'in the shadows'

Callamard also said the victims of the “drug war” must have access to panel. She pointed out that some of the families may have lost their breadwinners and the government must also look into what support is being given to them.

“So the place of the victims in this ongoing review panel, their role in searching for accountability and for reviewing the cases, how many of them are getting access to redress, to repatriations?” Callamard added.

Justice chief Guevarra has yet to send a response on Callamard’s statements.

He earlier said the panel intends to engage with the CHR for a draft of the full report.

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