Change of course needed for President Duterte’s first 100 days in office

Press release

(Paris, Manila) Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte must urgently change course and address key human rights issues during the first 100 days of his six-year term, FIDH and its member organization Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) said today. Duterte won the 9 May 2016 presidential election and was sworn in as the country’s 16th President on 30 June 2016.

“President Duterte’s irresponsible statements have resulted in a sharp deterioration of the rule of law. He must abandon his incendiary rhetoric, immediately stop the recent surge of extra-judicial killings, and ensure that his administration complies with the Philippines’ human rights obligations under international law.”

Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

From 10 May to 18 July 2016, police officers and vigilantes were responsible for 312 reported cases of extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals, mostly in connection with drug-related offenses. About 85% of the cases occurred after Duterte took office. [1] According to police figures, 39 suspected drug dealers had been killed from the start of the year until the presidential election.

The recent dramatic increase in the number of extrajudicial killings appears to be a direct consequence of Duterte’s numerous reckless statements made during his election campaign and after his victory in the 9 May polls.

During his election campaign, Duterte heavily emphasized the use of vigilante justice and pledged to kill up to 100,000 criminals during his first six months in office in order to eradicate crime and corruption. Duterte has been accused of having links to vigilante death squads who were believed to have been responsible for the killing of more than 1,000 people during his time as mayor of Davao.

After Duterte’s election victory, his alarming statements escalated. During his first press conference after election day, on 16 May 2016, Duterte vowed to restore the death penalty by hanging for a wide range of crimes with a particular focus on crimes involving drugs. Other crimes for which Duterte said the death penalty would be reinstated include rape, robbery, and kidnapping that resulted in the victims’ death. The Philippines abolished capital punishment for all crimes in 2006. Duterte also declared he would give security forces shoot-to-kill orders to neutralize members of organized crime groups and those who violently resist arrest.

In an extremely disturbing development, on 31 May 2016, Duterte suggested corrupt journalists would not be “exempted from assassination.” In addition, he repeatedly promised bounties to police officers for killing criminals, including drug dealers.

Just hours after taking his oath as president, Duterte called on ordinary Filipinos to kill drug addicts. The next day, he urged the communist armed group New People’s Army to execute drug traffickers.

“President Duterte’s must immediately end his support of the senseless state-sponsored violence we have witnessed since his election. What he must do is lay out a clear plan hinged on human rights principles to address the legacy of impunity and the serious challenges that continue to plague the country.”

Rose Trajano., PAHRA Secretary-General and FIDH Vice-President

FIDH and PAHRA urge President Duterte to take concrete steps during his first 100 days in office to address key human rights challenges. The two organizations call on Duterte to:

1. Respect the Philippines’ legal obligations under core international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.
2. Begin the process of ratification of other key international human rights instruments, including the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and ILO Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.
3. Ensure the protection of human rights defenders, trade unionists, indigenous leaders, and journalists and order thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into all cases of past crimes committed against them.
4. Adequately investigate all past cases of enforced disappearances, in line with the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, and extrajudicial killings, especially those implicating police, military personnel, and armed militias.
5. Ensure that the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 are implemented and that all torture complaints are investigated in a timely manner, perpetrators are brought to justice, and victims obtain full and effective redress and reparation.
6. Accelerate the adoption of legislation protecting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) rights.
7. Implement the recommendations that the Philippines accepted during its latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2012, as well as the recommendations made by the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in December 2008, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) in November 2012, and the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) in May 2016.

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