REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES: Over 1700 killings by unknown assassins and police indicate lawlessness, not crime control

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1 Sep 2016
[International Secretariat]

On 22 August 2016, in a Senate inquiry into allegations of extrajudicial executions, Philippine Police Chief dela Rosa revealed that 712 people had been killed in police operations against drug users and drug sellers, and 1067 had been killed by unknown vigilantes since 1 July 2016, the day after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte entered office.

The Chief pledged that all allegations of murder and extrajudicial executions by police will be investigated. Amnesty International is therefore calling on the Philippine authorities to ensure the establishment of an independent police complaints commission.

The commission should have the mandate to receive complaints and other reports of human rights violations committed by the police, be required to report publicly on its activities, and have the mandate and resources to provide any necessary protection to complainants, victims and witnesses.

The Philippine authorities should further ensure the rights to life and health of people who use drugs are respected and protected by guaranteeing their access to health-related information and services on a non-discriminatory basis.

The heavy reliance on repressive policies and the use of force to control drug use and addiction across differing countries has not led to a decreased use of drugs over the years, as found by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

On the contrary, counternarcotic operations and other law enforcement practices have had a counterproductive effect, heightening the associated risks and harms of using drugs, and increasing the levels of violence, human rights violations and abuses.

People responsible for drug-trafficking offences should be brought to justice through prosecution. Safeguards on the right to liberty and security of person, including fair trial guarantees, must apply equally for drug-related cases.

The unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of a state actor, or with the state’s complicity or acquiescence, is an extrajudicial execution. This is a crime under international law.


Since 30 June 2016, the day President Duterte took office, there have been reports that hundreds of individuals across the country have been unlawfully killed by police and vigilantes. Some of these killings, as reported, clearly amounted to extrajudicial executions.

During his leadership campaign and since his inauguration, President Duterte has repeatedly and publicly made commitments to stamp out drug crime, calling on law enforcement agencies “to double your efforts…triple them if need be…”.

23 August 2016

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