Philippines: The war on drugs – a top priority of OMCT
The war on drugs among OMCT’s top
Geneva, 15 March 2017 – On the occasion
of the upcoming Philippines’ Universal Periodic Review on human rights by the
UN, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) will this week on two
occasions denounce the many violations of President Duterte’s “war on drugs”
and encourage Member States to pressure him to end it.
Since Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016,
more than 7,000 people – including children – have been tortured or killed in
the poorest neighborhoods of the country’s capital as part of police investigations
to fight against crime, corruption and insecurity – all three blamed on drug
dealers and users. The perpetrators of these crimes, usually recorded as acts
of self-defense acts, remain unpunished, resulting in a worrying and relentless
erosion of the rule of law in the Philippines.
OMCT alongside its Philippine partner Children’s Legal Rights and Development
Center (CLRDC) have been working in the country since 2009 to protect
detained children from torture. They have observed a significant increase in
cases of arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial executions of minors
since Duterte’s election as President. In the first six months of his term
alone, they have documented at least 30 child executions in the Manila region.
Philippines are not isolated. They are only the tip of the iceberg of the
violation of human rights,” declared Mr. Staberock. “If we remain indifferent
to what is happening, there will be no limits – the worst could happen anywhere
and to anyone.”
As happens in many other countries, respect for
democracy and the law is being forsaken in the name of national security. But
these two can – and should – be compatible. That is OMCT’s stance, which the
organization is reiterating this week during two debates on the alarming human
rights situation in the country. The aim is to raise awareness among the
general public and urge international actors and United Nations Member States
to put pressure on the Duterte Administration.
At the UN
OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock hosted a
debate on 15 March from 15:00 to 16:30 in Room XXV of Palais des Nations. It
was a side event to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council,
which will close on 24 March.
The Philippines’ UPR will take place on 8 May
this year. The last revision of the measures taken by the country by all UN
Member States took place in 2012, five years ago. The Human Rights Council uses
the UPR to remind States of their responsibility to protect and guarantee all
human rights and fundamental freedoms.
At the FIFDH
On March 18 – closing day of the 15th edition of
the Festival du film et forum international sur
les droits humains (FIFDH) – OMCT will co-host alongside Délégation Genève
Ville Solidaire (DGVS) a debate at 20:30 entitled “Philippines: License to
Kill”. This debate will follow the screening of Tir
à vue sur les dealers.
Leila de Lima, unable to attend the debate after
being arrested on February 24, will be represented by her Chief of Cabinet, Philip Sawali. De Lima is Duterte’s
main opponent and President of the Philippine Human Rights Commission. She was
accused of setting up a drug trafficking network in a move intended to silence her, according to some observers.
OMCT, Amnesty International and the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have publicly and repeatedly
denounced President Duterte’s deadly policy. According to several NGOs the
police, under direct orders from President Duterte (who boasts of having killed
some dealers himself), could be committing crimes against humanity. The FIFDH,
Amnesty International and OMCT have called for the immediate release of Leila
UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard, who will attend the
debate, has demanded
President Duterte to put an end to the war on drugs. In August 2016 she
asked the Philippine authorities to take all necessary measure to protect
the population from executions and to decriminalize drug users.
Lastly Rosemarie Trajano,
activist, director of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
and member of OMCT’s General Assembly will present her view on the matter. The
debate will be moderated by Chloé Rémond,
an independent French journalist based in the Philippines.
OMCT brings together
an international network of over 200 NGOs fighting torture and protecting human
rights all over the world.
Among the activities organized from their
headquarters in Geneva, Brussels and Tunis, OMCT provides medical, financial
and legal assistance to torture victims as well as technical, financial and
strategic assistance to anti-torture NGOs in its capacity as civil society
coordinator before the UN Committee Against Torture. The organization also
defends human rights and works towards the enforcement of the prohibition of
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Media contact: Lori Brumat email@example.com