Philippines: Police return to lethal drug operations a ‘human rights disaster’
Reacting to the news that the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is again considering expanding the role of the police in his administration’s “war on drugs”, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
“The return of the police’s involvement in the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’ would be a human rights disaster. Since President Duterte took power, the police have unlawfully killed thousands of people in anti-drug operations, with the vast majority of victims being from poor and marginalised communities. The police’s return to these operations could mean many more deaths.
What the Philippines needs is not an expansion of the murderous ‘war on drugs’, led by police who show no sign of reform, but a public health-based drug policy that respects human rights and the rule of law
“There has been a reduction in killings since the government pulled the police off drug operations last month, placing the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency as the sole agency responsible for the anti-drug campaign. What the Philippines needs is not an expansion of the murderous ‘war on drugs’, led by police who show no sign of reform, but a public health-based drug policy that respects human rights and the rule of law.
“There must also be accountability for the thousands of killings carried out already, and all those responsible – including police officers and those who gave the orders – should be brought to justice.”
On 12 October 2017, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reduced the police’s role in drug-related operations in favour of the Drug Enforcement Agency. On 22 November however, President Duterte said in a national speech that he was considering revising that decision.
The Drug Enforcement Agency is mandated under the law to enforce all legal provisions on prohibited drugs.