Callamard: 'Vast majority' of killings remain uninvestigated

MANILA, Philippines — Beyond the thousands killed in the conduct of the Philippines’ so-called war on drugs, there are clear and numerous shortcomings on the part of the government, United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said.

Callamard noted that the Philippines has not conducted independent investigations on the majority of alleged extrajudicial killings and summary executions, which is a standard for democratic states.

“The vast majority has not been investigated. On this point alone, Manila contravenes its obligations,” Callamard said in an interview with French newspaper Libération.

Such lack of investigation constitutes the violation of the right to life, which is the right not to be arbitrarily executed, she added.

“The obligation of an independent inquiry is even stronger when it comes to murders committed by state officials,” she said.

Duterte has acknowledged that around 5,000 drug suspects have been killed by the police while a large number have been killed by unknown individuals and militias.

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According to the government’s “#RealNumbersPH” campaign, 3,811 drug suspects have been killed as of late August.

According to a June 30 release, with data updated until June 19, there were 8,200 under investigation out of 12,833 homicides recorded since July 1, 2016. The Presidential Communications Operations Office said 2,098 were drug-related. The last two “#RealNumbersPH” releases did not have info on deaths under investigation.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that more than 12,500 people have been killed since Duterte took office in June 2016.

‘Crisis of human rights, public health’

Callamard warned that Duterte’s so-called war on drugs has become a crisis of human rights and public health.

Journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers and trade unionists in the Philippines have suffered from violence in the past, but she said the Duterte administration may have brought something new.

“Yes, the victims are no longer journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, but people suspected of being linked to drug trafficking, consumers or drug addicts. Most of the people executed are from the most vulnerable communities in economic and social terms,” Callamard said.

Callamard was supposed to conduct an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the country when Duterte set his conditions for her visit.

The president wanted to have a public debate with Callamard, which would not be impartial and would place her and the UN as a whole in a situation of weakness.

“It is out of the question that I enter this communication policy. I do not want to be exploited by Mr. Duterte,” Callamard said.

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