A woman grieves next to the dead body of her son, as an alleged drug user who was killed by unidentified assailants, in Manila, October 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A group of lawyers in the Philippines has filed a petition with the country’s Supreme Court in an attempt to stop President Rodrigo Duterte’s 16-month old war on drugs, which has reportedly claimed the lives of thousands of people across the country.
The petition was filed on Wednesday by Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) — a nationwide human rights lawyers’ organization — on behalf of three people whose relatives were killed by police.
It called for judicial intervention in the government’s “illegal campaign,” which it said allows police to kill and circumvent legal procedures.
The lawyers wrote that a practice of compiling lists of “drug personalities” and encouraging citizens to anonymously provide names was tantamount to drawing up a hit list.
“The present war on drugs being waged by the government is not going to stop illegal drugs, crime, and corruption,” said FLAG chairman Jose Manuel Diokno. “[It] will only result in the killing of more and more people, especially the poor.”
Police arrest an alleged drug dealer in Manila, September 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Duterte launched his trademark “war on drugs” soon after taking office in June 2016. Around 3,900 people have been killed in operations by police, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) data.
PNP spokesman Dionardo Carlos, meanwhile, said police “welcome the filing of the petition before the Supreme Court.”
The petition also called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the killings.
“The government’s war on drugs is short-cutting the justice system by dispensing justice from the barrels of guns,” the petition said.
Duterte has already come under fire by local and international human rights groups over the controversial war on illegal drugs.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech in Manila, October 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A Human Rights Watch official in Geneva denounced the campaign over the weekend, describing it as a “travesty of basic human dignity,” which he said was pushing the Philippines to international “disrepute.”
John Fisher, the group’s advocacy director in Switzerland, said Duterte’s war on drug was a “murderous campaign,” warning that the country could face serious consequences if it continued to ignore its international obligations regarding human rights and United Nations mechanisms.
Duterte, however, insists that he would not stop the campaign, saying he is prepared to go to prison to protect the people of his country against crimes fueled by illegal drugs.