• The Financial District


Tens of thousands of people in the Philippines may have been killed in the war on drugs since mid-2016 amid "near impunity" for police and incitement to violence by top officials, the United Nations (UN) said on Thursday, June 4, 2020.

It said the drugs crackdown, launched by President Rodrigo Duterte after he won election on a platform of crushing crime, has been marked by police orders and high-level rhetoric that may have been interpreted as "permission to kill," Stephanie Nebehay wrote in Geneva and Karen Lema in Manila for Reuters.

In Manila, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the "rehashed claims" of impunity were unfounded. "Law enforcers operate on strict protocols and transgressors of the law are made accountable," he said in a statement.

Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for independent investigations into the killings and said her office was ready to help credible domestic Philippine or international efforts to establish accountability. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already opened a preliminary investigation. The UN report was hailed by the Makabayan bloc, a six-member group at the House of Representatives, as well as the human rights alliance Karapatan, Selada, an organization of Marcos martial law victims, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) labor federation, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students (LFS), all of which noted the UN report came as Congress approved the Anti-Terror Bill that gives the Duterte sweeping powers to act as judge, jury and executioner of everyone it deems to be a “terrorist,” sweeping aside respect for human rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

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