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CHR hopes government's vote of confidence in probes will be matched by full cooperation

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CHR hopes government's vote of confidence in probes will be matched by full cooperation
FILE - An alleged drug dealer is handcuffed after a drug buy bust operation conducted by policemen where they caught this 18 year old boy selling marijuana in Manila on May 12, 2018. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has left nearly 4,000 drug suspects dead and seen human rights groups claim he was responsible for a crime against humanity. The anti-drugs campaign enjoys popular support while the fiery-tongued Duterte has rejected any criticism of his human rights record.
AFP / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines — With the Department of National Defense inviting the Commission on Human Rights to verify reports of alleged abuses of security forces, the watchdog said it is hopeful that the government’s expression of confidence will be matched by its full cooperation.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, in a statement Friday, said they welcome the expression of confidence of the government in their capacity to conduct independent probe.

In particular, they cited the statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that they challenged the US State Department to provide them with details so the CHR can verify them.

Lorenzana said they are questioning the US Department of State 2021 Country Report on Human Rights Practices that said it received “credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses.”

Expressing hope, De Guia added it has long been the Commission’s clamor to bring to court human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and tortures.

“We ask that the expression of confidence be matched with the full cooperation of the highest authorities, It is also imperative that this is communicated on the ground to enable independent investigations by the Commission and other investigative and fact-finding bodies,” she said.

“Being the primary duty-bearer, the government must respond by investigating all alleged cases of human rights abuses,” she added.

De Guia said enhanced transparency and cooperation in all levels of the government can demonstrate their willingness to investigate and prosecute alleged cases of abuse and ensure justice.

“The Commission looks forward to the security sector’s strengthened resolve and cooperation on all alleged cases of killings and violence involving state forces. To truly curb impunity, consistent efforts and concrete results are crucial in line with upholding the rule of the law and the right to life, liberty and security,” she added.

US State report

The US State report already cited the CHR’s own documents where it investigated 100 new complaints of alleged extrajudicial and politically motivated killings.

The commission investigated 130 victims allegedly perpetrated by 39 police personnel, eight military personnel, five insurgents, three local government officials and 45 unidentified persons. The CHR also investigated 49 drug-related killings with 53 victims with suspected police or Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency involvement.

It also pointed to the government's own data that acknowledges over 6,200 killings in official anti-drug operations by state forces. Rights groups both here and abroad say the true death toll could be as high as 30,000. 

The CHR has also long asked to be part of the Department of Justice-led review of the “war on drugs” operations that resulted in deaths, but the watchdog was excluded in the two reports of the panel. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Franco Luna

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE

DRUG WAR

WAR ON DRUGS

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