Statement on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Seven decades ago at the end of World War Two humankind has asserted that the destruction of human dignity in order to achieve power over populations through violence and fear would no longer reign in the world. Thus the United Nations on December 10, 1948 agreed on a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which would set the standard by which all nations strive to achieve for each of their citizens.
70 years on, the UDHR remain more relevant than ever as the world is now faced with an alarming rise in rightist and populist governments in many countries. Specifically in the Philippines, which has been under the Duterte presidency for more than two years, the respect for life and human dignity had been atrociously violated a thousand times over.
The In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) condemns in the strongest possible terms the statement and intention of President Duterte to establish a death squad to hound the NPA sparrows. The establishment of a death squad means a unit operating above the law, not subject to rules, accountability, checks and safeguards. This will redound to the further erosion of the rule of law and democratic institutions and normalizes the default Duterte policy of resorting to violence and killing those he perceives to be a threat. Such a State-sponsored and -sanctioned group operating in obscurity and beyond the legal frameworks only extends and exacerbates the existing death squad epidemic and puts all agents of change in the Philippines at even greater risk.
Just as he did two years ago, defining drug suspects as the inconvenient sector worthy of slaughter and programming the police and unleashing death squads to exterminate them, Duterte is again setting up the stage to unleash a wave of killings parallel to the War on Drugs.
The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) report on the global failure to address illegal drugs cited the gruesome results of drug wars waged around the world:
A 145 per cent increase in drug-related deaths over the last decade, totaling a harrowing 450,000 deaths per year in 2015.
At least 3,940 people executed for a drug offence over the last decade, with 33 jurisdictions retaining the death penalty for drug offences in violation of international standards.
Around 27,000 extrajudicial killings in drug crackdowns in the Philippines.
More than 71,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 alone.
A global pain epidemic, resulting from restrictions in access to controlled medicines, which have left 75 per cent of the world’s population without proper access to pain relief.
Mass incarceration fuelled by the criminalization of people who use drugs – with 1 in 5 prisoners incarcerated for drug offences, mostly for possession for personal use.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) agrees with IDPC that the decade-long UN Drug Policy has not been successful and even made situations worse. This is because most States have not pursued a policy anchored on a strategy that is evidence-based, integrated, balanced and sustainable.