A widow of a victim of the government’s so-called war on drugs called for a stronger United Nations (UN) effort in investigating the killings in the Philippines.
Amy Jane Lee, whose husband Michael was among the thousands killed, said the bloody campaign started by the Rodrigo Duterte government is continuing under the current Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration.
“The killings continue. If the ‘war on drugs’ was effective, the proliferation of illegal drugs would no longer be an issue. If the domestic investigation processes were efficient, I wouldn’t be here asking for help again,” Lee said.
A member of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, Lee is in Geneva, Switzerland as the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) publicized its report on human rights challenges in addressing and countering all aspects of the world drug problem.
Rise Up is among the groups that submitted complaints to the OHCHR and was cited in the report, particularly about human rights violations “resulting from the militarization of anti-drug operations that disproportionately impact the poorest and most marginalized sectors of society.”
The UN OHCHR report also stated that: “In most cases, accountability for human rights violations and access to effective remedies for victims and communities remains lacking.”
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is conducting its 54th session attended by a delegation of the Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch from human rights, lawyers, indigenous peoples, church, and environment groups from the Philippines.
The HRC is currently conducting a UN Joint Program in the Philippines that includes dialogues and trainings with government agencies in upholding and protecting human rights.
The program however had been receiving criticisms from local human rights groups for being “insubstantial in bringing about changes in the country’s drug policies, with the killings continuing under the Marcos administration unchecked and un-prosecuted.”
“The heat is on the Philippines, with UN special rapporteurs noting concern over recent developments in the Philippines, on top of the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigating the extrajudicial killings committed during the Duterte administration’s drug war,” said Atty. Kristina Conti, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)-National Capital Region.
The NUPL represents victims of the “war on drugs” in proceedings before the ICC.
Lee and Philippine UPR Watch called on missions of state members of the ICC to support the investigation being conducted by the Office of the Prosecutor.
Conti emphasized the continuing obligation of the Philippine government to cooperate with the court.
“It is logically inconsistent for the Philippines to cooperate with the UN but not the ICC,” she said.
Philippine UPR Watch also reiterated its call for the UN through the OHCHR to continue their monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in the Philippines, with the killing of a lawyer in Abra province and the abduction and arbitrary detention of two environmental activists in Bataan. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)