(Geneva) – The Philippine government’s brutal “war on drugs” has devastated the lives of countless children, Human Rights Watch said today in a new web feature. The United Nations Human Rights Council, whose 41st session began on June 24, 2019, in Geneva, should adopt the resolution initiated by Iceland that asks the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the Philippines’ “drug war” and human rights crisis.
The web feature, “Collateral Damage: The Children of Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs,’” shares stories on the plight of several children who have suffered from the emotional, psychological, and economic impacts of the “drug war” violence. The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte should not only end the violence but provide the necessary services to mitigate the damage that abuses by the police and police-backed vigilantes have caused children who have lost parents and other family members, or witnessed extrajudicial killings.
“No child should experience the loss of a parent or other family member to extrajudicial killings or witness such horrific violence at the hands of police or hitmen,” said Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher. “The toll of the Philippines’ ‘drug war’ does not end with the killing of a drug suspect, but may extend to their children, often completely destroying families.”
By the government’s own admission, more than 6,600 people have been killed since the “drug war” began after Duterte’s election three years ago. Other estimates are much higher. Children have been among those who died during police operations, either directly targeted or inadvertently shot by the police.
“Jennifer,” one of the children interviewed by Human Rights Watch, was 11 years old when police shot her father dead. She has since had difficulty eating, become withdrawn, and for a while stopped going to school.
“Kyle,” age 5, developed aggressive behavior after assailants murdered his father. Three other children interviewed by Human Rights Watch ended up living in the streets because nobody could take care of them. Most victims of the “drug war” come from poor families in impoverished urban areas in Manila and other cities across the Philippines.
“The tragic stories of children victimized by the Philippines’ ‘drug war’ should energize the UN Human Rights Council to bolster efforts to put an end to the killings,” Conde said. “The Philippine government needs to be held accountable for the suffering of these children.”