US State Department 2016 report says extrajudicial killings “increased sharply”
The US Department’s 2016 Human Rights Report on the Philippines said “extrajudicial killings have been the chief human rights concern in the country for many years and they increased sharply over the past year.”
The report, issued Friday in the United States, added that “since July police and unknown vigilantes have killed more than 6,000 suspected drug dealers and users as the government pursued a policy aimed of eliminating illegal drug activity in the country by the end of the year.”
It said the most significant human rights problems were “killings allegedly undertaken by vigilantes, security forces, and insurgents; cases of apparent governmental disregard for human rights and due process; and a weak and overburdened criminal justice system notable for slow court procedures, weak prosecutions, and poor cooperation between police and investigators.”
There has been no reaction from Malacanang but the Philippine government has maintained human rights violations are not tolerated.
Philippine police said Saturday its anti-drug program will be resumed after criticisms mounted.
The US State Department report said “concerns about police impunity increased significantly as few administrative or criminal charges were filed against PNP officers following the sharp increase in police killings.”.
It added: “ President Duterte publicly rejected criticism of the killings and claimed authorities would investigate any actions taken outside the rule of law. Significant concerns about impunity of civilian national and local government officials and powerful business and commercial figures persisted.”
The US State Department noted that while the Philippine National Police said 2,155 suspects were killed during police anti drug operations between July 1 and December 26, but there were “approximately 4,000 more drug-related killings by unknown persons during the period.”
Charges have been filed in about 800 of these killings by unknown persons while the Commission on Human Rights investigated 227 new complaints of alleged extrajudicial or politically motivated killings involving 299 victims as of August, the report said.
The CHR also announced an investigation into President Duterte’s claims that he had personally killed several suspects during his earlier tenure as mayor of Davao, said the US State Department report.
As of September, 709 investigations were opened into deaths resulting from PNP operations. As of December 26, charges had been filed in approximately 800 of the killings by unknown persons, the report said. DMS