Thank you, Madam President.
The High Commissioner’s report on the Philippines provides a stark summary of the widespread and systematic rights violations ongoing in the country. Its findings on the murderous “war on drugs,” which has resulted in thousands of killings, are chilling. And there is much more, including extrajudicial killings of political activists, attacks on civic groups, assaults on media freedom and democratic space, and the government’s failure to make any significant attempt to hold those responsible accountable. The report drives home the urgent need for the Council to take action for international accountability.
About 100 children have died in the anti-drug campaign. Human Rights Watch recently reported on the broader impact of the “drug war” on children and their often impoverished families. We spoke to “Jennifer,” who tried to shield her unarmed father from the police who shot him dead in his house in 2016. The killing scarred Jennifer, then 12, leaving her unable to eat properly or stay in school. She still suffers nightmares of her father being gunned down, with her helpless to protect him. There are too many Filipino children like Jennifer.
President Duterte’s “drug war” still rages, with killings by police and unidentified associates reported daily. But rather than investigating the crimes and bringing those responsible to justice, the administration harasses and jails critics and publicly encourages more killings.
It has been four years this week since President Duterte took office and unleashed this human rights catastrophe. UN member states should urgently take more robust action to address these serious violations. The Council has a responsibility to heed the recommendations by the High Commissioner and UN experts and create an independent, impartial and effective investigation into the Philippines.