This is a request from Amnesty International:
In the Philippines, President Duterte’s national police and unknown armed persons have killed thousands of people suspected of using or selling drugs. These killings appear to be systematic — those that are killed are overwhelmingly from poor, urban neighborhoods. In many cases, police have tried to cover up unlawful killings by planting evidence at crime scenes and falsifying incident reports.
One voice has been strongly vocal and critical against Duterte’s policies: Senator Leila de Lima. The Senator voiced her concerns against Duterte’s “war on drugs” and has been imprisoned on politically motivated charges since February 24, 2017.
Shortly after President Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, Senator de Lima voiced her concern regarding the increasing number of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders. Following this, the President and other state officials began a campaign of harassment and intimidation against her.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Senator De Lima opened a Senate Inquiry into unlawful killings committed in the context of the “war on drugs” and called in key witnesses to testify before the Senate in September 2016. Shortly after, allies of President Duterte brought 10 people, 7 of them prison inmates, to testify before Congress that drug money was paid to de Lima’s driver to help fund her campaign to the Senate. It was later revealed that, following their testimony, prison inmates received benefits in jail.
Senator Leila de Lima has been imprisoned since February 24, 2017. Amnesty International believes that the charges against the Senator are politically motivated, and calls on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the Senator and drop all charges against her.
From her prison cell Senator de Lima has continued to issue daily handwritten dispatches, commenting and responding to current social and political issues in the Philippines, and continued to call for attention to human rights violations in the country.
While neither the use nor sale of drugs is confined to poor neighborhoods, police operations have overwhelmingly targeted those living in poverty, making the so-called ‘war on drugs’ a war on the poor. Drug-related killings have created a pervasive climate of fear in poor communities, with families of victims unable to seek justice, and many forced into hiding due to fear of further attacks.
Senator Leila de Lima is still in prison for protecting low income communities against systematic attacks by the police. She is a champion of human rights in her country. Take action now and demand her immediate release.
SAOL Project is proud to be a signatory on the following campaign:
We the undersigned raise the alarm over the ongoing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines drug war – and the impact they are having on the international climate.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office two and a half years ago, Philippine National Police have acknowledged killing 5,000 people in anti-drug operations, and report another 22,000 "homicides under investigation." Philippine and international human rights organizations believe the 5,000 are extrajudicial killings by police, and that many of the 22,000 killings were orchestrated by the government.
President Duterte has repeatedly promised to engage in mass killings in the drug war, bragged about doing so, and promised protection from prosecution to police who engaged in such killings. And the government has initiated prosecutions of police officers in just one case, after the murder of a teenager named Kian delos Santos was caught on a surveillance video that was widely viewed in the Philippines.
The president's words may constitute incitement to commit crimes against humanity, even in the absence of verified direct orders. The lack of prosecutions in turn suggest the Philippine judicial system under President Duterte lacks a credible process for responding to these killings.
Tragically, a "Duterte effect" is having international ramifications. The governments in Indonesia and Bangladesh have begun to engage in extrajudicial drug war killings, and leaders in Sri Lanka and Brazil have raised the possibility of following President Duterte's example.
We in Africa have walked a long road in the struggle for rule of law and human rights. International partnerships have played an important role. Human rights defenders from more than ten African nations have sought help from the International Criminal Court. Governments throughout our continent have availed themselves of UN rule of law programs. Goal #16 of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, "peace, justice, and strong institutions," seeks to establish a new level of equality and fairness worldwide.
Following the ICC's announcing a preliminary investigation into the Philippines drug war killings in March of last year, President Duterte transmitted notification of the Philippines' withdrawal from the Rome Treaty that authorized the ICC. However, the Philippines' obligations under the treaty will remain even after the one-year effective date, for any and all matters under the Court's jurisdiction occurring through that time. But contrary to such obligations, the Duterte administration has declined to cooperate with the Court's preliminary investigation. The administration has also not allowed investigation by the UN human rights bodies.
A deterioration in the global human rights climate could place our own hard-won progress in Africa at risk. We call on States to respect their obligations under the world's human rights treaties, and for governments to leverage their influence in support of institutions of justice.
We further urge donor States to consider scaling up their financial support for the ICC; and for increased use of laws like the Magnitsky Act, which can hold rights-abusing officials accountable through sanctions that target them individually, without imposing costs on their societies.
The world is at a moment when we can move forward in addressing these challenges, but could also fall back. This is a time for leadership – a time to stand up for what's right. We express our solidarity with "Stand with Human Rights: Global Campaign for the Philippines," and with people's everywhere in the struggle for peace and freedom.
For more details on the campaign, please go to http://www.inpud.net/en/stop-duterte-now-%E2%80%93-global-campaign