Dutertes War on DrugsMarch 17, 2017 in Philippines
“Son of a b****, if your name is there, you have a problem; I will really kill you,” said the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte early this year. He has made public a list of what he claims are thousands of narco-politicians and has warned mayors involved in drug trade to either resign or die. Over 8000 alleged drug users and dealers have been killed in the war on drugs since Duterte took office in June 2016. Dutertes anti-drug campaign known as Operation Double Barrel has allegedly been a spree of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and users in Manila and other cities.
Human Rights Watchs (HRW) investigations into various incidents have revealed police involvement in extrajudicial executions. Witnesses in HRW investigations have said that armed assailants in civilian clothes with their faces covered would bang on doors and barge into rooms, but would not identify themselves or show warrants. Family members have reported hearing beatings and their loved ones begging for their lives. The shooting could happen instantly, behind closed doors or on the street; or the gunmen might take the suspect away, where minutes later shots would be heard and local residents would find the body; or the body would be dumped elsewhere later, sometimes with hands tied or the head wrapped in plastic. No evidence so far, however, shows that Duterte has planned or ordered specific extrajudicial killings. But the Philippines Presidents repeated calls for killings as part of his anti-drug campaign could prompt law enforcement to commit murder.
Although the White House has consistently condemned the allegedly extrajudicial killings in the name of war on drugs, the U.S. appears somewhat reluctant to take stronger actions for fear of jeopardizing geo-strategic priorities in the region.
The alleged extrajudicial killing of thousands of suspected drug dealers and users in the Philippines and Dutertes repeated death threats against drug dealers and users offer several legal grounds for which he and his top subordinates could be incriminated in the Philippines or by a court abroad. Dutertes statements instigating the general population against suspected drug users could also incite violence in the country. The killing spree is also likely to have adverse effects on public health. Punitive drug enforcement can lead to drug users going underground, choosing not to avail critical health services. This can trigger the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C among people who have used drugs and may discourage people with drug dependence from seeking effective treatment.