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Don’t make the war on drugs a war on human rights, new HR group told President Duterte

Thursday, 11 August 2016

August 12, 2016 – Newly formed human rights coalition, In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend) calls on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte not to make his government’s war on drugs a war on human rights.

In their joint statement, the group emphasized that no matter who is extrajudicially killed or whose rights are violated, he or she is a human being with rights and dignity and that human rights are for all, especially for the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable.

Since May 2016, more than 700 people have been killed by police and vigilantes in the Philippines for being suspected of using or dealing drugs, as a direct result of President Duterte’s campaign to get rid of illegal drugs within six months. In addition, more than 600, 000 alleged pushers and users have already surrendered to authorities under the “Oplan Tokhang” out of fear and humiliation.

The international community has already expressed serious concern with the increasing number of reported extrajudicial killings and other forms of human rights violations in the name of drug control measure. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) even reiterated that such actions contravene to the provisions of the international drug control conventions and will not help to ensure that all people can live a life in good health, dignity and peace, and with security and prosperity.

Prompted by this alarming human rights situation, more than 30 non-governmental organizations of human rights defenders joined hands to form today a new coalition called In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement or iDefend. The group believes that the arbitrary killing of suspects that bypasses the fundamental due process endangers everyone in the Philippine society as anyone can now be accused of any crime or involvement in illegal drugs and be executed before and without having a chance to publicly defend themselves in court.

”Illegal drugs are harmful. But by encouraging the police to use their guns to deal with it is even more dangerous and will not stop the vicious cycle of violence. It only creates a climate of fear, insecurity and helplessness.” Ms. Rose Trajano, Convenor of iDefend said.

The iDefend challenges the Duterte administration that if the government is really sincere in curbing crime and drugs trade, it should do it by introducing policies that will alleviate poverty, stamp out corruption at all levels of government and reform the criminal justice system.

“We can’t cow to silence when day after day people are being killed. There is no compromise to human rights. We can’t allow this abnormal situation to become normal. We need to have unrelenting courage and determination to defend and to advance our human rights,” Ms. Trajano added.