Philippines rights body’s drug war probe bolsters police abuse allegations

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FILE PHOTO: Activists take part in a rally protesting at an escalation of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, in Quezon City, Metro Manila

MANILA – An investigation by the Philippines’ rights commission into the killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has found that dozens of people were shot in the head, chest and abdomen, suggesting an intent to kill, it said on Tuesday.

The Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) report, which bolsters findings by the justice ministry that pointed to foul play in dozens of deadly police operations, is the latest to challenge the government’s narrative of the war on drugs.

The commission said it reviewed 579 incidents of “drug-related extrajudicial killings” and violence from 2016 to February 2020, 451 of which were allegedly linked to police operations and involved 705 victims.

Records of at least 87 individuals showed they sustained multiple gunshot wounds, usually on the head, chest, trunk and abdomen, while blunt force was used on some, CHR said.

“The Supreme Court, in a decision on the plea of the self-defence of law enforcement, ruled that the location of a deceased aggressor’s gunshot wounds may suggest an intent to kill and not just defend oneself,” CHR said in a statement.

Duterte’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the police said they will look into the CHR report.

Duterte has defended the police and argued that all those killed were drug dealers who resisted arrest.

The commission said police officers involved in 77 incidents it investigated were recommended to be “awarded, rewarded or recognised.”

The Philippines has come under pressure from the United Nations to investigate allegations of systematic murders of drug suspects, and the International Criminal Court recently announced it would investigate Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.


(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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