Human rights group slams Philippines president Duterte's threat to kill them

Human Rights Watch has denounced a call by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte for police to shoot rights activists who get in the way of his bloody drug war.

Duterte should immediately withdraw his statement or be investigated for possibly instigating or inciting violence against Philippine rights advocates, the New York-based advocacy group said.

 

The body’s deputy Asia director, Phelim Kine, said the threat “is like painting a target on the backs of courageous people working to protect the rights and upholding the dignity of all Filipinos”.

Duterte “should retract his reprehensible remarks immediately before there is more blood on his hands”, he added.

Speaking following the bloodiest night of his one-year tenure in high office, Duterte said he would investigate human rights defenders criticising him, or order officers to kill them.

“One of these days, you human rights groups, I will also investigate you. That’s the truth. For conspiracy,” Duterte said.

“If they are obstructing justice, you shoot them,” he said. “So they can really see the kind of human rights.”

Police in the Philippines killed 32 people in a series of raids near Manila on Monday night, part of an operation authorities said was aimed to “shock and awe” drug dealers.

Duterte later said he approved of the “massive raid” and called for more bloodshed: “Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”

The former prosecutor, who has repeatedly assured police he will pardon them for crimes, previously threatened to kill human rights defenders in December 2016.

Nicknamed “the Punisher” for his lethal approach to policing, Duterte has also threatened to block an investigation by the national commission on human rights into alleged abuses by Philippine security forces, although he later said his threat was a “joke”.

Political opponents of Duterte have attempted to bring him to the international criminal court (ICC) in the Netherlands, accusing the president of crimes against humanity.

His call on Wednesday for police to consider human rights advocates legitimate drug war targets is a sinister escalation in his rhetoric, Human Rights Watch said.

“Duterte is on notice that his death threats against human rights advocates could pave the way for prosecution for crimes against humanity,” Kine said. “Duterte’s assault on accountability highlights the urgent need for a UN-led international investigation into his drug-war slaughter.”

Since the former mayor of Davao city became president last July, government figures show police have killed close to 3,500 “drug personalities”. More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained circumstances, according to police data.

Source: theguardian

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