(New York) - The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child should press the Philippines government to take meaningful steps to investigate death squad killings and prosecute the perpetrators, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 15, 2009, the committee is reviewing the Philippines' compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Death squads, operating with the involvement of local authorities and with virtual impunity in Davao City and elsewhere in the Philippines, have frequently included children among their targets. In Davao City alone, more than 908 people have been killed by death squads since 1998. At least 82 victims, or 9 percent, were children. So far this year, more than 70 people have been killed.

"Children, some of whom already have miserable lives on the street, continue to be among the targets of the Philippines' lawless death squads," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The Child Rights Committee should press the Philippines to prosecute these killings."

Death squads target alleged criminals, including street children and children in conflict with the law. They operate with at least the tacit approval of police officers and local officials.

Human Rights Watch, the Coalition Against Summary Execution and the Kalitawhan Network called on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to give special attention to death squad killings of children in a joint letter sent August 24, 2009.