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Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War

Submitted by David Borden on (Issue #966)
Politics & Advocacy

On Thursday March 16th our international drug policy work took a new turn, when we presented "Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War," a side event at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna. The event addressed the situation in the Philippines, in which the new president of the country, former Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, entered office last summer promising to slaughter large numbers of purported drug suspects. More than 7,000 people have been killed in the Philippines at the time of this writing, by police or vigilantes.

Speakers Chito Gascon, Alison Smith and Marco Perduca (photo by Joey Tranchina)
Our session unexpectedly drew high-level political interest, and Vice President Leni Robredo of the Philippines, opposition leader and a critic of the killings, recorded a video to be presented there. The video and event were covered by TIME as part of being made public (one article featuring the video then another interviewing Robredo), and the news wire services Reuters and Agence France Press published articles, as did numerous outlets in the Philippines. At the time of this writing the video has garnered over 167,000 views.

Other speakers at the event included the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Chito Gascon; former prime minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva (also by video), the Chair of our partner group the Council of Asian Liberals & Democrats; and experts on international criminal justice.

Unfortunately, allies of Pres. Duterte as well as other rivals of Vice President Robredo seized on the video to attack her politically, claiming that the video constituted a "betrayal of the public trust" that she should be impeached for. Political figures including the Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives and the president's spokesperson claimed falsely the video's release was timed to coincide with the filing by a member of Congress of an impeachment complaint against the president.

On the same day as the session, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to the killings and for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima, another prominent critic of the killings who has been jailed on charges that are widely viewed as unsupported. The critics of the vice president, which include Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator who lost by a narrow margin to Robredo in the vice-presidential election and is challenging it in court, have charged that Robredo was behind all three events and is engaged in a "destabilization campaign" against the Duterte government to make herself president.

By the time the actual session took place, it was already controversial, and the heated political conflict the video prompted has raged in the Philippine media during weeks since then, only now possibly slowing down. A Google News search on "Robredo" turns up dozens of articles about it, most of them mentioning the video and our UN event. We've been able to play a helpful role at times -- the Philippine Daily Inquirer published an article this week which primarily featured an interview with our executive director (Group Say Duterte, Not Robredo, Upsetting Int'l Community), shared over 7,600 times according to the newspaper's web site, and several outlets including CNN Philippines published a statement we issued clarifying that the video's release was not related to the impeachment complaint against the president.

We have full footage from the event prepared, which we are shopping around to major media outlets before posting, but which we hope to make public by next week. We hope that seeing footage from the actual event will help to turn the discussion in the Philippines back to what's important: the extrajudicial killings and other abuses in the president's drug war, and the failure of the drug in the Philippines, US and elsewhere.

In the meanwhile, you can help by circulating the vice president's powerful video message on your networks. If you have a web site, you can post an embedded copy of the YouTube video, or you can post it to your social media pages. (When posting to Facebook, we recommend you use this Facebook copy, as we've heard that Facebook deprioritizes YouTube videos.)

Here is the event flyer:

And here is Vice President Robredo's video.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


sicntired (not verified)

This will follow him foor as long as his political career does.Duterte rid himself of many political opponents back when he was Mayor.He did this without juidicial oversight and for  LONG TIME AS DRUG CSAR.We ask any and all such information to be brought,carefully(do not place yourself at risk.)

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 9:09am Permalink
Rocky Coast (not verified)

The UN needs to shoulder some of the blame in all this.




The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.


That "treaty" has enabled people like Duterte. It is the product of a failed idiology, and represents the dark side of having these types of unfettered international bureaucratic governing bodies.

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 4:39pm Permalink
Fred Garcia (not verified)

To David Borden,

Not sure if this email will ever reach to you. But I make an appeal not to listen to Leni Robredo. I have heard that you watched her video portraying my Land to be dangerous and that people are hapless and helpless. I invite you to come to the philippines and see it for yourself. Do not just rely on fake news! This lady, Leni Robredo, has handlers that are trying to destabilize my country. We have a president that works really hard. Night and day, rain or shine. Truly love the people. Not corrupted. Put the people's interest above anything else. People these days don't live in the olden times where news are fabricated to destroy a person or a nation. We have social media where everybody is made aware of the real situation. You come here and you see the real situation so you will not be misinformed. Now I know you the founder of this organization and that you are really passionate about it. People here in the philippines are tired of drugs and the problems that occurred as a result. KILLINGS OF THE INNOCENCE, ROBBERY, MURDER, RAPE, ETC. You know, we dont want them no more. Our president is working hard to wage war against drugs. Our future are our children. Drugs destroy all of this. These criminals who have died didn't die of EJK or extra judicial killings. They fought back to police and making the lives of the police in grave danger. As a person high on drugs, what do you think they are capable of doing? Do they just yield and surrender? NO. They fight heaven and earth! Other drug criminals are terminated by their kind. I am sure you know/heard about MAFIA or other syndicate groups, don't you? They kill their own just to protect their interest. Though Duterte threaten to kill the drug criminals openly in his public speeches, he never said to kill them if they surrender properly. He said to kill them if the lives of the arresting police officers are in grave danger when they fight back with their guns. You know David, we don't want these drug criminals lurking our neighborhood. If you may please take them away from us if you really care about them. Petition them to your country. Who knows with your help you will find success in changing them. Mind you, the drugs they are taking are not from plants but rather made from chemicals that shrink the brain. Come to our country and talk to the ordinary people like me. Thank you.

Sun, 03/19/2017 - 9:50am Permalink
Helen Lising (not verified)

I am a Filipino and this Leni person does not represent me.

The statements she made here were not verified from official related government agencies thus they are hearsay and put my country in bad light.

Leni Robredo has an ongoing electoral protest and many Filipinos believe that she and her party cheated for her  to win the election.

Ever since she went into the VP office, i've not seen any substantial contribution from her for the Filipino people. Publicity, yes. But contribution to improve the lives of her countrymen, nothing.


Mon, 03/20/2017 - 4:34am Permalink
borden (not verified)

This is just what Marcos wants you to think, Nadine, and Duterte and his enablers.  Duterte has repeatedly called for mass killings and promised to engage in them, and the killings have happened.  It makes no sense to deny that reality.

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 11:12am Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

Aljazeera and RT have both done documentaries on the Murders in the Philippines.That there are so many people willing to overlook extrajudicial murder shows that this problem is endemic in that society.Like all anti drug hysteria it's more about social status than anything else.Well running societies have less addiction and less drug abuse.The poorer the population,the wider spread the drug abuse.The people who support extrajudicial murder have something they desire more than the lives of others.Under such a situation, anyone can rid themselves of someone they dislike by simply reporting them as drug involved.Any drug use is death under Duterte.

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 6:26pm Permalink
Anonymous1 (not verified)

Attacking the "extra-judicial" killings is not worded correctly as it insinuates that the killings would be acceptable if they were court-ordered. I'd disregard the words extra-judicial and stick with killings and how prohibitionists make things like this possible. Our government profits off of people dying from prohibitionists as well.
Tue, 10/17/2017 - 5:20pm Permalink

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