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Summary, "Human Rights Challenge, Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War," March 16 2017, UN in Vienna

Summary of the side event at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 16 March 2017: "Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Executions in the Drug War"

prepared by Alison A. Smith, Counsel and Director of Criminal Justice Program, No Peace Without Justice,

1. Side event overview

Since his rise to power, President Duterte has engaged in an infamous "war on drugs" that has led to the extrajudicial killing of thousands of alleged drug users and dealers. More than 7,000 people have been killed since President Duterte started his anti-illegal drug campaign after taking office in May 2016. Despite increasing criticism from international and national human rights organizations, he repeatedly expressed his delight at the deadly results of his campaign and emphasized that the war on drugs will continue until his term ends in 2022.

Interviews with witnesses and open source research conducted by Amnesty International highlights the cruelty of the war on drugs and its far-reaching social effects, to which mostly people from poor neighborhoods fall victim. There is increasing reason to believe that the extrajudicial killings follow a certain pattern or policy. The rhetoric of President Duterte openly dehumanizes drug users, encouraging violence and promising impunity for anyone involved in the killing of drug users. In light of such findings, the possibility of investigations by the International Criminal Court, to which the Philippines acceded in 2011, are being discussed within the international human rights community.

The side event at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs was organized by DRCNet Foundation and cosponsored by the AFEW International, Associazione Luca Coscioni, Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, Drug Policy Alliance, India HIV/AIDS Alliance, Liberal International, No Peace Without Justice, Persaudaraan Korban Napza Indonesia and Union C (Nepal). Moderated by David Borden, Executive Director of DRCNet Foundation (also known as StoptheDrugWar.org), and Marco Perduca, former senator of the Italian Radical Party, the event opened the floor to different perspectives on the war on drugs, including the Vice President of the Philippines, speakers from human rights organizations and Philippine human rights bodies and representatives of the Philippine government. As might be expected, the opinions of the government vs. other presenters'' differed very strongly.

Speakers representing human rights organizations embedded the ongoing war on drugs in a global trend of authoritarian and populist leadership, pointing to retrogressive developments in human rights and democracy standards. Calling for an immediate stop to the killings, there was agreement to condemn the war on drugs as an unacceptable and inhumane approach to tackle drug problems which may constitute as crimes against humanity according to international criminal law. If the Philippine justice system continuously fails to take up efficient investigations in that matter, participants expressed their support for an intervention by the International Criminal Court. Further major criticisms referred to the lack of transparent data and figures, the non-collaboration of police forces and judicial harassments or threats against those denouncing the human rights implications of the war on drugs.

As a response, the Philippine Government justified its war on drugs as a legitimate campaign that is necessary to serve its democratic duty and address the drug menace that threatens the well-being of its society. Claiming that many killings are occurring out of self-defense in legitimate police operations and that the implementation of comprehensive public health measures are equally part of the anti-drug campaign, the Philippine Government emphasized the need to put the war on drugs into context. The government assured that murders committed by unknown assailants would be investigated and stressed its respect for human rights and social justice.

Regional perspectives and experiences shared at the side event helped to illustrate the political dimension of the Philippines war on drugs. Drug trade and consumption seems to be a topic of high concern to the public and tends to be politicized by authoritarian-leaning governments. Other than investigating and prosecuting the extra-judicial killings that have taken place within the war on drugs, it is therefore crucial to come up with an alternative solution that takes the fears of Philippine voters seriously. With that in mind, participants from human rights organizations called upon the international community to collaborate in adopting a comprehensive public health approach and to help fighting illegal drug trade in the region.

2. Side event summary

In his introductory remarks, moderator David Borden (DRCNet) drew attention to the global rise of populist and authoritarian leadership. The tendency to politicize tensions among different identity groups has challenged the fulfilment of international human rights standards, increasing violence, hatred and anti-democratic movements all over the world. In this context, Mr. Borden pointed out that it is the most urgent priority to not let the brutal Philippine war on drugs become a model for other leaders. He went on to emphasize the importance of human rights leaders that dare to speak out against President Duterte's anti-drug campaign. In that respect, Mr. Borden especially thanked Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo and the Philippine Commission of Human Rights (CHRP) Chair Chito Gascon.

Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo (video message) clearly condemned the ongoing war on drugs and referred to the 7,000 killings that have taken place since July 2016 as "summary executions." The government's brutal anti-illegal drug campaign fails to address the very nature of the country's drug problem: The consumption and circulation of drugs is a complex public health issue, closely linked to poverty and social inequality. Consequentially, those most affected are residents of Manila's poorest neighborhoods who are not only mourning the loss of family members but are also subjected to the discriminatory and arbitrary behavior of police officials. Reportedly, people searched in drug raids were denied search warrants because they were living as squatters and lacked proof of property. Family members of alleged drug users who were listed by the police but could not be found were arrested as substitutes. As a result, the relationship to police forces has deteriorated significantly, undermining the overall feeling of safety and trust in authorities among the Philippines' largest communities. Instead of increasing security and eliminating criminality, Vice President Robredo predicted that the war on drugs will create new issues of public concern requiring legal and psychological support for affected individuals.

Vice President Robredo lamented that the anti-illegal drug campaign lacks transparency, particularly in respect of reliable statistics on the actual extent of the Philippine's drug problem and the lack of investigative efforts. Around 500 cases of extrajudicial killings have been filed with the Philippine Commission of Human Rights (CHRP) but until today none of these cases has undergone further investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ). She further recalled the country's historical achievements, fighting for democratic values and respect for human rights under martial law imposed by former dictator Marcos. Against this background, she appealed to the Filipino people to watch carefully the human rights implications of the anti-illegal drug campaign and other happenings such as the potential reintroduction of the death penalty and the lowering of criminal liability to the age of nine years. The Vice President made it clear that in her opinion, a holistic public health policy, including educational and psychological interventions, can be the only approach consistent with respect for people's dignity and human rights to tackle the Philippines drug problem.

Lousewies van der Laan (video message), former leader of the Dutch D66 Liberal Party and spokeswoman on justice in the Dutch and European Parliament, reinforced the argument of previous speaker Vice President Robredo that drug use cannot be seen in isolation from complex social and health dynamics. As former chief of staff of the President of the International Criminal Court, she recalled the strong participation of active Philippine civil society organizations that she experienced during preparations for the country's ratification of the Rome Statute in 2011. The then Philippine president Benigno Aquino explained his decision to ask the country's Senate to ratify the Rome Statute by saying that the high number of Filipino nationals living and working abroad could only be protected if the Philippines contributed to setting a high international standard of human rights and rule of law. With that in mind, Ms. Van der Laan stressed the importance of Philippine civil society and motivated politicians to stand united against human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Abhisit Vejjajiva (video message), is the former Prime Minister of Thailand and Chairman of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), a network of regional liberal and democratic parties which cosponsored the side event. In line with previous speakers, Mr. Vejjajiva criticized the Philippine government for ongoing human rights abuses within its anti-drug campaign. This brutal approach to tackle drug related issues risks having a profound negative impact on other countries in the region, of which Thailand has already engaged in similarly cruel anti-drug policies in the past, and Cambodia is potentially at risk for. In order to end ongoing violence and find adequate responses for the region's drug problem, the political dimensions of such anti-drug campaigns need to be addressed first. A majority of the region's population feel that drugs are a significant problem in their societies and are not adequately addressed. As a consequence, despite the high number of killings, such anti-drug campaigns are widely supported by the public, encouraging and legitimizing the radical approach of authoritarian governments. Mr. Vejjajiva argued that both among societies and political leaders, there needs to be more awareness of the negative implications such drug wars can have. He cited former President of Colombia Cesar Gaviria, who has argued that anti-drug policies in his country have created new problems: driving the drug trade underground, preventing users from seeking rehabilitation services and increasing corruption among police forces and state officials.

In order to stop the killings in anti-drug campaigns and reduce political support for authoritarian leaders, those advocating for human rights and the rule of law need to come up with a credible alternative solution to tackle drug issues. In this regard, the international human rights community has both to continue its pressure on authoritarian governments and convey a strong message to the wider public, raising awareness that extrajudicial killings are not the right approach to address drug issues but are illegal and anti-democratic in their very nature.

Alison Smith, Director of the International Criminal Justice Program with No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), reported on the international criminal law implications of the Philippine war on drugs. Having acceded to the Rome Statute in 2011, potential war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide taking place in the Philippines can be investigated and prosecuted by the ICC. Since the Philippine war on drugs is not related to a conflict and does not include a specific intent to eliminate a protected group, war crimes and genocide do not fall within the scope of this analysis. Instead, based on NPWJ's research of open-source information, Ms. Smith concluded that crimes against humanity have been committed since the war on drugs started in May 2016. The killings within the Philippine anti-drug campaign do not appear to be justified by law and therefore constitute an act of murder, which is the first to be prohibited under crimes against humanity in the Rome Statute. The context of this act, which is that it needs to take place as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a state or organizational policy to commit the attack, is equally shown in the Philippine case. The large number of extra-judicial killings within the war on drugs aggregate to an attack, which international criminal law has interpreted as the commission of multiple acts prohibited within the context of crimes against humanity. Furthermore, international criminal law does not require a formal or written plan to prove that crimes against humanity are committed on the basis of a state or organizational policy. The systematic nature of the killings in the Philippine war on drugs and promises that perpetrators will enjoy immunity from jurisdiction infer that there is either a state policy or a general agreement to allow such attacks to take place. In the light of the above, Ms. Smith appealed to the Philippine authorities to stop extrajudicial killings and fulfill their international obligations by investigating and prosecuting these crimes against humanity.

Chito Gascon, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Republic of the Philippines (CHR), associated the brutal war on drugs directly with Rodrigo Duterte's presidency and stressed that the number and pace of killings has reached an alarming level, which so far has been unprecedented in the ASEAN region. According to Mr. Gascon, among the close to 8,000 deaths, one third were killed by police officials and justified for the purpose of self-defense in ostensibly lawful police operations. The other two thirds were supposedly killed by unknown assailants and have been labelled as "deaths under investigation" (DUIs) by government authorities. In reference to the lack of national investigation efforts highlighted by previous speakers, Mr. Gascon reported that so far no police officer has been charged. Instead, the self-defense argument appears to be used to circumvent longstanding internal police regulations for investigating the use of firearms in operations. For instance, previous policies imposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that required further examination of cases involving the use of force for the purpose of self-defense in front of a court, appear to have been abandoned under the Duterte administration. However, Mr. Gascon pointed out that he still believes the Philippine justice system will be able to function if serious investigations are initiated soon and authorities are willing to cooperate with the CHR. In that respect, he reported on the non-cooperation of the police in about 500 CHR-led investigations, ignoring requests for access to documentation. In line with previous speakers, Mr. Gascon confirmed the possibility of ICC proceedings and urged the Philippine Government to instead stop the killings itself, to properly investigate the killings, and to approach the drug problem through a "harm reduction" public health approach.

Sulpicio Confiado, Deputy Chief of Mission, Counsel General and Deputy Permanent Representative from the Republic of the Philippines, read out a statement of the Philippine Government. Based on data released by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the government conceded that there is a need for further investigations but clearly dissociates itself from killings carried out by vigilante groups or syndicates, which the government claims are being investigated as murders. Mr. Confiado further clarified that this particularly applies to a small number of suspicious cases. In the opinion of the Philippine Government, the international community unfairly generalizes the high number of deaths as extrajudicial killings. These figures need to be put into perspective as some killings are causalities, occurring in legitimate police operations, and a good percentage are not drug related at all.

The Philippine Government strongly rejected accusations made by the international community and defended its anti-drug campaign as a necessary and politically legitimate approach. Based on section four of the Philippine Constitution, the government regards the war on drugs as a primary duty to protect the Philippine society from the dangers that drug consumption and trafficking pose to the well-being of society. According to the Philippine Government, the voluntary surrender of 100,000 people proved the dimension of this drug problem, which is affecting an estimated three million citizens. Eliminating the drug menace is a precondition to turn the very high percentage of young citizens into healthy members of society, allowing them to grow up in safe environments and fully enjoy human rights.

The statement further argued that the perspective of the international community is one-sided. The government claims to complement the anti-drug campaign with a holistic public health approach, promoting and implementing preventive, educational, rehabilitation and reintegration measures. This is embedded in the overall socioeconomic agenda of the current administration, whose primary goal is the alleviation of poverty. In this regard, Mr. Confiado listed successfully implemented reforms aiming to eradicate social inequality by addressing the needs of rural populations. The success of community based measures, involving communities in implementing rehabilitation centers and planning anti-drug strategies, are further proof of the government's respect for the dignity of marginalized social groups.

In the name of the Philippine Government, Mr. Confiado asked the international community to accept the anti-drug campaign as a legitimate and necessary step to serve and protect its population. He also called for more international collaboration and support in fighting the drug trade. The government statement ended by quoting the President' Duterte's State of the Nation address after his election, emphasizing that the government will fully commit to human rights, social justice and development. However, at the same time the quote insisted that international opinion will not limit the government's actions and decisions in protecting its citizens and promoting the well-being of society.

Following the speakers' statements, concerns and questions regarding available protection mechanisms for human rights defenders (Daniel Joloy, Amnesty International) and the potential powers of the Vice President's Office to oppose abuses, were raised. In reference to an earlier comment made by Marco Perduca, co-moderator and former Italian senator, who expressed his concern that those criticizing the war on drugs are harassed and curtailed in their right to freedom of speech, CHR Chair Chito Gascon reaffirmed the deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in the Philippines. Those opposing President Duterte's policy risk being harassed, threatened, intimidated and prosecuted. In that respect, Mr. Gascon referred to the recent arrest and imprisonment of former Minister of Justice and former CHR Chair Leila De Lima as a prominent example. In his opinion, the testimonies of long term convicts suddenly accusing Senator De Lima of being involved in drug circulation confirm the suspicion of trumped up charges and fabricated evidence. Mr. Perduca strongly condemned the incarceration of Senator De Lima and noted the European Parliament had taken up a resolution on this matter. Mr. Gascon reported that Vice President Robredo appears to face similar challenges due to her outspoken criticism of the anti-illegal drug campaign. However, the Vice President's powers are very limited as long as President Duterte knows that 80 % of the population approve of his job performance and that a majority in Congress support his policies.

A last comment was made by Earl Saavedra, Deputy Executive Director of the Dangerous Drugs Board of the Republic of the Philippines, who presented updated figures on the war on drugs released by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Between July 1, 2016 and January 29, 2017, 21 law enforcers were administratively charged and another 21 criminally charged. During law enforcement operations involving DUI matters, 11 officials were charged. Fifty-four officials were charged related to operations aiming to arrest drug traffickers. Another 43 law enforcers were charged in regard to President Duterte's pronouncement to surrender and 18 within his call for voluntary surrender. Mr. Saavedra reaffirmed the government's holistic approach to preventing drug use and assured the collaboration of his institution, offering to share whatever data is available.

 

– END –

Chronicle AM: Norway Moves Toward Drug Decrim, WHO Gives Thumbs Up to CBD, More... (12/14/17)

Norway moves down the path toward drug decriminalization, a New Hampshire legislative committee votes down a legalization bill, the WHO gives a thumbs up to CBD, and more.

CBD ointment. The World Health Organization has declared CBD non-addictive and non-toxic. (Pinterest)
Marijuana Policy

Illinois' Cook County to Vote on Non-Binding Legalization Referendum. The county commission voted Wednesday to put an advisory referendum on whether marijuana should be legalized on the March primary ballot. While the vote is only advisory, a strong "yes" vote in the state's most populous county would send a signal to state legislators in Peoria, who will be considering legalization next year.

New Hampshire House Committee Votes Down Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 13-7 Tuesday to kill a legalization bill, House Bill 656.

International

World Health Organization Declares CBD Non-Addictive, Not-Toxic. In a recent report, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared cannabidiol (CBD) non-addictive and non-toxic. "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential," WHO concluded. The organization's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) found "no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD." The committee also found that clinical trials showed CBD could be useful for treating epilepsy and "a number of other medical conditions."

Norway Begins Move to Drug Decriminalization. A majority of the parliament has moved to begin shifting the country's drug policies toward decriminalization. "The majority in the parliament has asked the government to prepare for reform," a spokesperson for the Storting told Newsweek. "It has started a political process," he said. But he cautioned that "it's just the starting point," and that there's no legislation yet. Parliamentarians will be heading to Portugal in the spring to see how the Portuguese did it.

Global Coalition Calls for International Criminal Court to Intervene in Philippines. A coalition of dozens of groups and individuals worldwide led by Help Not Handcuffs has sent an open letter to the International Criminal Court urging it to investigate the Duterte government for crimes against humanity for the wave of killings of suspected drug users and sellers that has left thousands of people dead in the last year.

December 10 is Human Rights Day

This Sunday, December 10, is the UN Human Rights Day, with the week being marked by observances and events around the world. UN agencies have made significant progress in recognizing the impact of drug policies and human rights, and our own efforts for the 2016 "UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem" (UNGASS) brought together hundreds of NGOs arguing for human rights as the basis not only for drug policy reform, but even for questioning prohibition. One resource on the intersection of drugs and human rights is a set of fact sheets published by the Open Society Foundations, and many more can be found through a web search.

Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the drafting committee for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (un.org)
As many of our readers know, StoptheDrugWar.org has been engaged in advocacy seeking to stop the campaign of drug war killings taking place in the Philippines. The link includes actions you can take including writing the US Congress about our foreign aid. One of our partners, the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance, and others are organizing a number of events for Human Rights Day. Some of the locations include Los Angeles, SF and the Bay Area, Chicago, Sydney, Melbourne, Paris and Bahrain -- email us if you want info on where to find them.

There is late-breaking word that the Philippines intends to announce its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court at the UN today. We'll post more on the site when we know it.

Earlier this week Foreign Policy magazine accorded its prestigious Global Thinker award to Senator Leila de Lima, who is in her 287th day of detention since challenging Philippine President Duterte on the killings. You can read her remarks online here. A video about Sen. de Lima's saga is online here. Lastly for the moment, a solidarity message for Human Rights Day from Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes.

Chronicle AM: North American Pot Sales to Top $10 Billion This Year, Report Says, More... (12/6/17)

There's more money in legal weed than even the analysts thought, BC will let 19-year-olds buy pot, Peruvian coca planting was up last year, and more.

A $10 billion year for legal marijuana, and this is just the beginning. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Retail Pot Sales Will Hit $10 Billion This Year, Report Says. A new report from the Arcview Market Research group says North American marijuana sales are growing faster than expected and should hit the $10 billion mark this year. And next year could see even faster growth with both California and Canada set to become legal marketplaces next year. Arcview said it now expects the legal marijuana market to hit $24.5 billion by 2021.

International

British Columbia Lays Out Pot Rules, Will Allow Sales to 19-Year-Olds. BC became the latest Canadian province to roll out proposed rules for looming legal marijuana, announcing that it will allow sales through a mix of government and private stores and that it will allow people 19 and over to possess and purchase marijuana. The province has not yet finalized other issues, such as whether online sales will be allowed and whether existing shops would be able to apply for licenses. Those decisions are expected next month.

Paraguay Congress Approves Medical Marijuana Planting. The congress passed a bill Tuesday that creates a state-sponsored system to import marijuana seeds and grow crops for medicinal uses. The move comes half a year after the congress approved the importation of cannabis oil, but patients and advocates had complained about problems with access. The bill still needs to be signed into law, but that is expected given that the government supports the bill.

Peruvian Coca Planting Jumped Last Year. The area planted with coca grew by 9% in 2016, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said Tuesday. Coca cultivation covered about 110,000 acres. Coca cultivation in Colombia, Peru's chief competitor, was at more than 360,000 acres, although that could be a blip related to producer incentives linked to the peace agreement between the FARC and the government.

Philippines President Orders National Police Back to Drug War Operations. President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the National Police to rejoin anti-drug operations. He had pulled them off the brutal crackdown on drug users and sellers in October, weeks before he hosted a summit of world leaders, including US President Donald Trump. This is the second time Duterte has pulled the National Police from the job and then reinstated them; the first time was in January, amidst public outrage over the killing of a South Korean businessman. 

Chronicle AM: Canada MJ Bill Passes House, HI Cops Want MedMJ Patients' Guns, More... (11/28/17)

In a national first, Honolulu cops are proactively targeting medical marijuana patients to demand they turn in any firearms, Canada marijuana legalization takes a big step forward, Philadelphia begins paying out for its dirty, corrupt narcs, and more.

Medical Marijuana

Honolulu Police Tell Medical Marijuana Patients to Surrender Their Guns. The Honolulu Police Department has sent letters to medical marijuana patients in the area ordering them to "voluntarily surrender" their firearms because they use marijuana. The letters give patients 30 days to give their guns and ammo to the Honolulu Police. While federal law prohibits acknowledged marijuana users from owning firearms, this is believed to be the first instance of local law enforcement proactively seeking out patients and ordering them to surrender their weapons.

Indiana Governor Orders Stores to Pull CBD Oil From Shelves. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has given stores 60 days to remove CBD cannabis oil products from their shelves after state Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) delivered an opinion that such substances are illegal under state and federal law. The only exception is for people with epilepsy who are on a state registry.

Law Enforcement

Philadelphia Begins Paying Out for Narcotics Agents' Misconduct. The city of Philadelphia has begun settling more than 300 lawsuits filed against members of a narcotics squad accused of a pattern of rampant misconduct lasting years. The city has already paid more than $2 million to settle 75 cases after courts began throwing out convictions in tainted cases three years ago. The city could pay up to an additional $8 million to resolve pending complaints. Five of the six officers involved were found not guilty of criminal charges last year, but that hasn't stopped the settlements from occurring.

International

Canada House of Commons Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House of Commons voted 200 to 82 Monday night to approve the Liberal government's marijuana legalization bill, C-45. The bill now goes to the Senate, where opponents could try to derail it. Stay tuned.

British Parliament Drug Policy Group Calls for Safe Injection Sites. The Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group has issued a report calling for the establishment of drug consumption rooms. The report charges that existing prohibitionist policies are failing communities and society's most vulnerable and suggests that London could learn a lesson from Dublin and Glasgow, where such facilities have been approved.

The Duterte Cancer Spreads to Malaysia. Malaysian Member of Parliament Bung Moktar Radin has embraced Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's murderous crackdown on drug users and sellers and urged his own country to emulate it. "I am very serious about this. Just shoot them, like they do in the Philippines," he said, praising the Philippines approach. "Why can't we do this? Jail addicts without trial and shoot dealers. What is the problem (in doing this)?"

Action Alerts, #GivingTuesday, Issue 1000, Remembering Rep. Hinchey

I hope that those of you who mark Thanksgiving had a good holiday. I'm writing today with some time-sensitive action alerts for those of us in the US, with some updates related to our organization, and some observations on recent news.

1. Medical Marijuana Is Under Threat: As you may have read on our web site and from other sources, medical marijuana in the US is facing its greatest threat in years. Since late 2014, legislation currently known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, a clause of the "Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies" (CJS) budget, has protected medical marijuana providers, by forbidding the US Dept. of Justice from spending taxpayer funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Unfortunately, like other laws related to the budget, the amendment needs to be reauthorized by Congress each year to stay in effect. And while it's passed in the Senate already, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives prevented the well-supported bipartisan measure from getting a vote. This situation means that the fate of the amendment, and perhaps of medical marijuana itself, will be decided by a House-Senate "conference committee" charged with reconciling the two chambers' CJS bills. If that fails to happen, there's no telling what the Jeff Sessions Justice Department under the Trump administration will do.

Our request is for you to call your US Representative's office in Washington, DC and ask them to support medical marijuana by insisting the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment be included in the final version of the Commerce Justice Science appropriations bill. You can reach your rep's office through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Please email us at [email protected] to let us know, especially if the office tells you anything about what your congressman plans to do. I also hope you'll fill our our write-to-Congress form on this issue here– that will enable us to let you know if you're in a state or district represented on the conference committee.

There is likely to a Continuing Resolution on the budget by Friday, December 8th, when the current resolution expires. Please take action on this before then.

2. We Still Need Your Help to Stop the Philippines Drug War Bloodbath: Last week I emailed and posted about S. 1055, the "Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017," which would impose human rights conditions on law enforcement assistance to the Philippines, while funding good programs there that provide alternatives to the drug war. This week Pres. Duterte signaled that he plans to ramp up his drug war killing campaign again.

President Trump has contributed to the slaughter, first by praising Duterte's anti-drug campaign two times while the killings continued, and then through his silence or near-silence on the matter at the ASEAN Summit earlier this month. That means Congress needs to take action. Please write to Congress in support of S. 1055, and when you're done please ask your two US Senators to pass the bill, and your US Representative to support companion legislation in the House.

We especially need your help if your Representative is on the House Appropriations Committee, or if either of your Senators is on the Senate Appropriations Committee. We need your help triply more even than that, if you live in Tennessee, or in Rep. Ed Royce's Congressional district in the LA/Orange County area.

Here again we are asking you to act before December 8th before the new budget resolution gets done. And please check out our sign-on statement and press coverage to see what else we're doing about this.

3. #GivingTuesday: This Tuesday, November 28th, is #GivingTuesday, a global campaign by many individuals and organizations to encourage giving to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. I hope you will take the opportunity to support our organization and other good causes you believe in.

I'm going to be honest and say that it has gotten harder to raise money for this kind of work, despite the great progress that we're making. We could use your help. If you've given in the past but not lately, or if you've been thinking of starting to support us financially, maybe #GivingTuesday will be the day! Our About page and other pages it links to have lots more information on our programs to help you decide.

The online donation forms for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, DRCNet Foundation, and our 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit Drug Reform Coordination Network, support making donations by credit card or PayPal; and you can make a donation on a one-time basis, or for a recurring donation monthly, quarterly or annually. Our mailing address to donate that way instead is P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016. You can find info on donating stocks in the donations section of our About page.

4. Issue 1000 of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter: You may have noticed that the latest issue of our Drug War Chronicle newsletter, sent out Wednesday, was #998. In less than two weeks we are publishing issue #1000!

If you're a Chronicle regular, please help us mark the occasion by sending a testimonial about how you use the newsletter to further reform. And be sure to check your email or our web site for Phil Smith' review of what's changed during the 20 years since the Chronicle was launched.

Donations to DRCNet Foundation, as linked above, can support the Chronicle, or our other educational and non-lobbying programs.

5. Remembering Maurice Hinchey: The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment that I wrote about above, which protects medical marijuana, originally was called the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. It was named after its first lead Democratic sponsor, Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York state. We were saddened to read news of his passing at age 79.

Another issue Rep. Hinchey worked on was one we played a role in for many years, repealing a provision of the Higher Education Act passed in 1998 that delays or denies financial aid for college to students because of drug convictions. Thanks in part to Rep. Hinchey's support, the law got scaled back in 2006, and legislation to further scale it back passed the House in 2010.

Rep. Hinchey spoke at a press conference we organized outside the US Capitol in May 2002, and at other events for the issue, along with all his other good work. We've missed him in Congress since he retired in 2013, and he will be even more missed now, by us and many others.

Chronicle AM: Kampia Out as MPP Head, Denver Bans Kratom Sales, More... (11/21/17)

A key Republican senator -- from the south -- has authored an appropriations bill that would not bar DC from allowing marijuana sales, longtime MPP head Rob Kampia steps down, Denver bans kratom sales, and more.

After nearly a quarter of a century, Rob Kampia has stepped down as head of the Marijuana Policy Project. (YouTube)
Marijuana Policy

GOP Senator's Bill Would Let DC Legalize Marijuana Sales. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has authored a District of Columbia appropriations bill that does not contain a budget rider barring the city from spending its own money to set up a system to tax and regulate marijuana sales. Although DC voters approved legalization in 2014, they did not legalize sales because DC law does not allow initiatives to address tax and funding issues. The DC council was expected to enact laws allowing for sales, but has been blocked by congressional riders in DC appropriations bills. But the House has already passed an appropriations bill that contains the rider, so even if the Senate bill passes, it will have to be sorted out in conference committee.

Kampia Out as Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director, Will Take Up Fundraising Role. MPP cofounder and long-time executive director Rob Kampia is leaving that role, but will remain with the organization as director of strategic development. He is being replaced on an interim basis by Matthew Schweich, who joined the group as director of state campaigns in 2015, while the MPP and MPP Foundation boards seek a permanent replacement. "This transition has been considered carefully by Rob and the board. We desired to shift Rob's workload one year ago after his intense work on the Nevada and Arizona campaigns," said Troy Dayton, who sits on the boards of directors for MPP and MPP Foundation. "Shortly after Election Day, Rob quickly shifted gears in December to start the Michigan 2018 legalization campaign. With the Michigan signature drive now complete, it is the right time to shift Rob's focus to new and bigger projects."

New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus Chair Skeptical on Legalization, Will Hold Hearings on "Negative Consequences." State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), head of the Legislative Black Caucus, announced Monday that he will hold hearings on the negative consequences of marijuana legalization in states that have already legalized it. "We know there are negative factors that we will need to safeguard against, from children's access to marijuana-infused edibles to motor vehicle accidents caused by impaired driving to the effect of marijuana on babies and the impact of legalization on communities of color," he said in a statement. "As chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, I plan to convene hearings at various locations around the state to make sure that we really delve into the details of this issue," Rice said. Incoming Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has said he supports legalization, and a bill to do that is alive in the legislature.

Kratom

Denver Bans Kratom Sales. Denver Environmental Health announced Monday that it has banned the sale of kratom within the city. The move comes days after the Food & Drug Administration issued a public health advisory against consumption of the herb, which works on the body's opioid receptors and has been popular as a pain reliever and for people attempting to wean themselves from opioids. The ban is not complete, however: The herb may still be sold for non-consumptive uses, such as aromatherapy or soap making, as long as it bears a warning label that it is not intended for human consumption.

International

Philippines Supreme Court Hears Case Challenging Drug War. The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments Monday in a case challenging the Philippines National Police's anti-drug operations that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of drug suspects. Attorneys challenging the campaign accuse the police of violating numerous rights guaranteed under national law, including human and privacy rights. Coming in for close scrutiny was a PNP policy that allowed police to go house to house for searches and to build cases against anyone who refused to allow them warrantless entry. Lawyers also accused PNP polices of expressly authorizes police to kill drug suspects. Oral arguments will continue next week.

Update and Action Alert: Trump, Duterte, Congress, and the Philippine Drug War Killings

Dear Reformer:

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte met for the first time, during the ASEAN Summit in Manila which Duterte hosted. As predicted, Trump did not raise human rights during their meeting, although a White House spokesperson claimed it came up "briefly" during a private discussion.

The top human rights issue Trump might have brought up with Duterte is the campaign of drug war killings that Duterte promised during his presidential campaign, and which he has followed through on since taking office in June last year. Human rights organizations and media have given estimates ranging from 7,000 to 14,000 killed already.

In a sign-on statement I organized, which has been endorsed by nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals and which we released this week in advance of the Trump-Duterte meeting, we note that the Philippine National Police (PNP) acknowledge over 3,900 people have been killed in anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration, plus nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still "unexplained." Our statement also notes the Philippines saw a roughly 50% increase in its official homicide rate, starting immediately when Duterte took office – hard to explain in the absence of an official policy of extrajudicial killing.

The statement was covered in articles on four important Philippines news outlets, including the Inquirer, Rappler (8th and 12th most read web sites in the Philippines respectively), the Philippine Star and InterAksyon. The Interaksyon article credited our coalition with renewing global calls for a UN-led probe into the drug war killings. Leading human rights organizations in the Philippines, Filipino American groups, top NGOs like NOW and Doctors of the World, and many others supported the statement. More than 50 of the NGOs endorsing it are based in Asia, including groups from a majority of the ASEAN states.

Should Trump have met individually with Duterte, and should he have pressed Duterte on human rights when he did? World leaders need to communicate with each other, and there's room for debate as to how best a US president should juggle competing interests. Unfortunately, Trump's silence on human rights during ASEAN leaves standing some incredibly harmful statements he has made on the matter in the past:

We will never know for sure if Trump's implicit greenlighting of Duterte's mass killing campaign led to more such killings, but it's possible. Clearly the president of Indonesia, who launched his own drug war mass murder campaign as part of a reelection strategy in August, must have taken note.

If the president won't lead on human rights, or even arguably helps to make things worse, then Congress should step in. That's why we are supporting S. 1055, "The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017," bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Although not perfect, S. 1055 would impose important human rights conditions on law enforcement assistance to the Philippines, and would fund positive health programs as well as the work of Philippine human rights defenders. Among the bill's supporters are Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the iDEFEND human rights coalition in the Philippines, the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance, US Filipinos for Good Governance, and our close partners the Drug Policy Alliance.

Along with sending you this update, I also have the following three requests:

  1. If you are a US voter, please write to Congress in support of S. 1055, using the online write-to-Congress form we've set up. Please follow up on your email by calling your state's two Senators and your Representative. (But please do use the form too – this will enable us to contact you if you live in a key state or district.) The time to do this is now, because we are trying to influence the pending State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, over the next few weeks.
  2. Please help to publicize our statement and S. 1055. You can use the set of sample social posts we've prepared for Facebook and Twitter, copied below my signature. You can also go straight to our Twitter page, @stopthedrugwar, where we have already retweeted some of these as posted by others. We'll be posting more to Twitter and to our Facebook group later as well.
  3. We need your financial support for this effort, and for other work like publishing the Drug War Chronicle newsletter, a key tool for advocates and many others in the issue. Tax-deductible donations to our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, DRCNet Foundation, will support work like the Philippines statement and the newsletter. Non-deductible donations to our 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Drug Reform Coordination Network, will support our legislative work directly supporting S. 1055, and other legislative matters in the US. If you would like to designate a gift for a specific program, please leave a note in the comment box on our donation form, or with your check if donating by mail. Links to both nonprofits' donation forms can be found at http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate, and our mailing address is P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016.

Thank you for helping and for your time reading this update. As we noted in the closing paragraphs of our Philippines statement, "Support for the global system of responsibilities and rights has become uncertain… lawlessness and extrajudicial violence must not become a model for more countries. When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now."

Sincerely,

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org
P.O. Box 9853 / Washington, DC 20016
http://stopthedrugwar.org
"U.S. and U.N. Drug Policy Reform"

Here are the sample social media posts:

Please help us by spreading the statement and news coverage on social media. Following are sample posts for Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter samples:

Posts highlighting S. 1055, the Philippines human rights appropriations bill in the US Senate:

Congress should press Philippines @OfficialDuterte to stop drug war killings, if @realDonaldTrump won't: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/633065/british-paper-s-banner-photo-of-trump-duterte-says-hand-in-hand-with-a-killer/story/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wibl5h2YZdM #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

@SenBobCorker @RepEdRoyce Please sponsor and move the Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act through your committees! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

Thank you @TLHumanRights Lantos Commission co-chairs @RepHultgren @RepMcGovern for highlighting Philippines extrajudicial drug war killings. https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2 #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-consequences-war-drugs-philippines

@SenatorCardin @marcorubio Thank you for sponsoring Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act – civil society supports! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

@RepSpeier Thank you for speaking out against Philippines extrajudicial killings at @TLHumanRights – civil society supports! http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit #StopTheKillings https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-consequences-war-drugs-philippines WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

Excerpts from the Statement:

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We call for a process of accountability, starting with a UN-led investigation. We… call on world leaders attending [#ASEANSummit] to unequivocally call for an end to the [Philippines drug war] killings…" https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings @UNHumanRights

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "Since the Philippines escalated its 'drug war'… over 3,900 people have been killed [by police] operations, with nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still 'unexplained'" say police. http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "If a government is unwilling or unable to seek justice, treaties allow for intervention by the International Criminal Court…" https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings @IntlCrimCourt

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now." http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We… urge the international community to fund Philippine human rights defenders at a level matching the crisis." http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @iDefendPH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGsJsfgvj_w @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Articles to Link:

Global coalition calls for end to Philippine drug war killings ahead of Trump's Philippines visit: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

International coalition calls for 'decisive actions' against drug war killings in Philippines: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @jodeszgavilan @rapplerdotcom @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Ahead of ASEAN, international coalition calls for probe into drug war killings: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @gaeacabico @PhilstarNews @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

On eve of ASEAN summit, more than 270 groups, individuals renew calls for UN-led probe of drug war killings: http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @interaksyon @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Press Release: Global Statement Calls for International Action on Philippine Drug War Killings https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Trump Celebrates "Great Relationship" With Philippine President Duterte at ASEAN Summit http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2017/11/trump-celebrates-great-relationship-philippine-president-duterte-asean-summit @MMcFarlandSM @DrugPolicyOrg @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

@amnesty @hrw reports show government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extrajudicial-executions-in-the-philippines-war-on-drugs/ https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-killings-dutertes-war-drugs #StopTheKillings https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar

Thank you @JustinTrudeau for pressing @OfficialDuterte on human rights, Philippines drug war: http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-raises-concerns-with-duterte-over-bloody-drug-war-in-the-philippines #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar

Thank you @jacindaardern for pressing @OfficialDuterte on human rights, Philippines drug war: https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/188439-jacinda-ardern-comment-drug-war-asean-2017 #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar

Facebook sample posts:

Posts highlighting S. 1055, the Philippines human rights appropriations bill in the US Senate:

Congress should press Philippines to stop the extrajudicial drug war killings, if President Trump won't – enact S. 1055 to put human rights conditions on aid: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/633065/british-paper-s-banner-photo-of-trump-duterte-says-hand-in-hand-with-a-killer/story/ Read the NGO statement at https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/asean-philippines-sign-on-statement-november-2017.pdf. #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Sen. Corker, Rep. Royce, please sponsor and move the Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act through your committees! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Thank you Lantos Commission co-chairs Reps. Hultgren and McGovern for highlighting Philippines extrajudicial drug war killings in your July hearing. Civil society supports you: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings #StopTheKilling #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Thank you Sens. Cardin and Rubio for sponsoring Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act -- civil society supports you: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Thank you Rep. Speier for speaking out against Philippines extrajudicial killings https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-consequences-war-drugs-philippines – civil society supports you: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Excerpts from the Statement:

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We call for a process of accountability, starting with a UN-led investigation. We… call on world leaders attending [#ASEANSummit] to unequivocally call for an end to the [Philippines drug war] killings…" https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "Since the Philippines escalated its 'drug war'… over 3,900 people have been killed [by police] operations, with nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still 'unexplained'" say police. http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "If a government is unwilling or unable to seek justice, treaties allow for intervention by the International Criminal Court…" https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now." http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We… urge the international community to fund Philippine human rights defenders at a level matching the crisis." http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @iDefendPH #StopTheKillings

Articles to Link:

Global coalition calls for end to Philippine drug war killings ahead of Trump's Philippines visit: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

International coalition calls for 'decisive actions' against drug war killings in Philippines: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @jodeszgavilan @rapplerdotcom @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Ahead of ASEAN, international coalition calls for probe into drug war killings: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @gaeacabico @PhilstarNews @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

On eve of ASEAN summit, more than 270 groups, individuals renew calls for UN-led probe of drug war killings: http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @interaksyon @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Press Release: Global Statement Calls for International Action on Philippine Drug War Killings https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Trump Celebrates "Great Relationship" With Philippine President Duterte at ASEAN Summit http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2017/11/trump-celebrates-great-relationship-philippine-president-duterte-asean-summit #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Other:

Amnesty International Report report shows government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extrajudicial-executions-in-the-philippines-war-on-drugs/ #StopTheKillings Civil society calls for international action: https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings

Human Rights Watch report shows government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-killings-dutertes-war-drugs #StopTheKillings Civil society calls for international action: https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings

Thank you Prime Minister Trudeau for pressing Duterte on human rights in the Philippines drug war: http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-raises-concerns-with-duterte-over-bloody-drug-war-in-the-philippines Civil society supports you -- http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit

Thank you Prime Minister Ardern for pressing Duterte on human rights in the Philippines drug war: https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/188439-jacinda-ardern-comment-drug-war-asean-2017 Civil society supports you -- http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit

Philippines update

Dear reformer:

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte met for the first time, during the ASEAN Summit in Manila which Duterte hosted. As predicted, Trump did not raise human rights during their meeting, although a White House spokesperson claimed it came up "briefly" during a private discussion.

The top human rights issue Trump might have brought up with Duterte is the campaign of drug war killings that Duterte promised during his presidential campaign, and which he has followed through on since taking office in June last year.  Human rights organizations and media have given estimates ranging from 7,000 to 14,000 killed already.

In a sign-on statement I organized, which has been endorsed by nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals and which we released this week in advance of the Trump-Duterte meeting, we note that the Philippine National Police (PNP) acknowledge over 3,900 people have been killed in anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration, plus nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still "unexplained."  Our statement also notes the Philippines saw a roughly 50% increase in its official homicide rate, starting immediately when Duterte took office – hard to explain in the absence of an official policy of extrajudicial killing.

The statement was covered in articles on four important Philippines news outlets, including the Inquirer, Rappler (8th and 12th most read web sites in the Philippines respectively), the Philippine Star and InterAksyonThe Interaksyon article credited our coalition with renewing global calls for a UN-led probe into the drug war killings.  Leading human rights organizations in the Philippines, Filipino American groups, top NGOs like NOW and Doctors of the World, and many others supported the statement.  More than 50 of the NGOs endorsing it are based in Asia, including groups from a majority of the ASEAN states.

Should Trump have met individually with Duterte, and should he have pressed Duterte on human rights when he did?  World leaders need to communicate with each other, and there's room for debate as to how best a US president should juggle competing interests.  Unfortunately, Trump's silence on human rights during ASEAN leaves standing some incredibly harmful statements he has made on the matter in the past:

We will never know for sure if Trump's greenlighting of Duterte's mass killing campaign led to more such killings, but it's possible.  Clearly the president of Indonesia, who launched his own drug war mass murder campaign as part of a reelection strategy in August, must have taken note.

If the president won't lead on human rights, or even arguably helps to make things worse, then Congress should step in.  That's why we are supporting S. 1055, "The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017," bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).  Although not perfect, S. 1055 would impose important human rights conditions on law enforcement assistance to the Philippines, and would fund positive health programs as well as the work of Philippine human rights defenders.  Among the bill's supporters are Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the iDEFEND human rights coalition in the Philippines, the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance, US Filipinos for Good Governance, and our close partners the Drug Policy Alliance.

Along with sending you this update, I also have the following three requests:

  1. If you are a US voter, please write to Congress in support of S. 1055, using the online write-to-Congress form we've set up.  Please follow up on your email by calling your state's two Senators and your Representative.  (But please do use the form too – this will enable us to contact you if you live in a key state or district.)  The time to do this is now, because we are trying to influence the pending State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, over the next few weeks.
  2. Please help to publicize our statement and S. 1055.  You can use the set of sample social posts we've prepared for Facebook and Twitter, copied below my signature.  You can also go straight to our Twitter page, @stopthedrugwar, where we have already retweeted some of these as posted by others.  We'll be posting more to Twitter and to our Facebook group later as well.
  3. We need your financial support for this effort, and for other work like publishing the Drug War Chronicle newsletter, a key tool for advocates and many others in the issue.  Tax-deductible donations to our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, DRCNet Foundation, will support work like the Philippines statement and the newsletter.  Non-deductible donations to our 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Drug Reform Coordination Network, will support our legislative work directly supporting S. 1055, and other legislative matters in the US.  If you would like to designate a gift for a specific program, please leave a note in the comment box on our donation form, or with your check if donating by mail.  Links to both nonprofits' donation forms can be found at http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate, and our mailing address is P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016.

Thank you for helping and for your time reading this update.  As we noted in the closing paragraphs of our Philippines statement, "[S]upport for th[e] global system of responsibilities and rights has become uncertain[, and] lawlessness and extrajudicial violence must not become a model for more countries.  When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now."

Sincerely,

 

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org
P.O. Box 9853 / Washington, DC 20016
http://stopthedrugwar.org
"U.S. and U.N. Drug Policy Reform"

 

Here are the sample social media posts:

 

Please help us by spreading the statement and news coverage on social media.  Following are sample posts for Facebook and Twitter.

 

Twitter samples:

 

Posts highlighting S. 1055, the Philippines human rights appropriations bill in the US Senate:

 

Congress should press Philippines @OfficialDuterte to stop drug war killings, if @realDonaldTrump won't: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/633065/british-paper-s-banner... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wibl5h2YZdM

#StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

 

@SenBobCorker @RepEdRoyce Please sponsor and move the Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act through your committees! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

 

Thank you @TLHumanRights Lantos Commission co-chairs @RepHultgren @RepMcGovern for highlighting Philippines extrajudicial drug war killings. https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-a... WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2 #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-con...

 

@SenatorCardin @marcorubio Thank you for sponsoring Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act – civil society supports! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

 

@RepSpeier Thank you for speaking out against Philippines extrajudicial killings at @TLHumanRights – civil society supports! http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... #StopTheKillings https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-con... WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

 

Excerpts from the Statement:

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We call for a process of accountability, starting with a UN-led investigation. We… call on world leaders attending [#ASEANSummit] to unequivocally call for an end to the [Philippines drug war] killings…" https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-a... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings @UNHumanRights

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "Since the Philippines escalated its 'drug war'… over 3,900 people have been killed [by police] operations, with nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still 'unexplained'" say police. http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "If a government is unwilling or unable to seek justice, treaties allow for intervention by the International Criminal Court…" https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings @IntlCrimCourt

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now." http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-i... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We… urge the international community to fund Philippine human rights defenders at a level

matching the crisis." http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... @iDefendPH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGsJsfgvj_w @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Articles to Link:

 

Global coalition calls for end to Philippine drug war killings ahead of Trump's Philippines visit: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

International coalition calls for 'decisive actions' against drug war killings in Philippines: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-a... @jodeszgavilan @rapplerdotcom @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Ahead of ASEAN, international coalition calls for probe into drug war killings: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... @gaeacabico @PhilstarNews @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

On eve of ASEAN summit, more than 270 groups, individuals renew calls for UN-led probe of drug war killings: http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-i... @interaksyon @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Press Release: Global Statement Calls for International Action on Philippine Drug War Killings

https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Trump Celebrates "Great Relationship" With Philippine President Duterte at ASEAN Summit

http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2017/11/trump-celebrates-great-relationship-philippine-president-duterte-asean-summit @MMcFarlandSM @DrugPolicyOrg @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Other:

 

@amnesty @hrw reports show government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extraj... https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-kil... #StopTheKillings https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine... @stopthedrugwar

 

Thank you @JustinTrudeau for pressing @OfficialDuterte on human rights, Philippines drug war: http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-raises-conc... #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... @stopthedrugwar

 

Thank you @jacindaardern for pressing @OfficialDuterte on human rights, Philippines drug war: https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/188439-jacinda-ardern... #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... @stopthedrugwar

 

Facebook sample posts:

 

Posts highlighting S. 1055, the Philippines human rights appropriations bill in the US Senate:

 

Congress should press Philippines to stop the extrajudicial drug war killings, if President Trump won't – enact S. 1055 to put human rights conditions on aid: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/633065/british-paper-s-banner... Read the NGO statement at https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/asean-philippines-sign-on-statement-nov... #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing  (US write to Congress https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

 

Sen. Corker, Rep. Royce, please sponsor and move the Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act through your committees! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

 

Thank you Lantos Commission co-chairs Reps. Hultgren and McGovern for highlighting Philippines extrajudicial drug war killings in your July hearing. Civil society supports you: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-a... #StopTheKilling #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

 

Thank you Sens. Cardin and Rubio for sponsoring Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act -- civil society supports you: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Thank you Rep. Speier for speaking out against Philippines extrajudicial killings https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-con... – civil society supports you: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

 

Excerpts from the Statement:

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We call for a process of accountability, starting with a UN-led investigation. We… call on world leaders attending [#ASEANSummit] to unequivocally call for an end to the [Philippines drug war] killings…" https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-a... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "Since the Philippines escalated its 'drug war'… over 3,900 people have been killed [by police] operations, with nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still 'unexplained'" say police. http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "If a government is unwilling or unable to seek justice, treaties allow for intervention by the International Criminal Court…" https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now." http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-i... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

 

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We… urge the international community to fund Philippine human rights defenders at a level

matching the crisis." http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... @iDefendPH #StopTheKillings

 

Articles to Link:

 

Global coalition calls for end to Philippine drug war killings ahead of Trump's Philippines visit: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump... @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

International coalition calls for 'decisive actions' against drug war killings in Philippines: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-a... @jodeszgavilan @rapplerdotcom @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Ahead of ASEAN, international coalition calls for probe into drug war killings: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-interna... @gaeacabico @PhilstarNews @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

On eve of ASEAN summit, more than 270 groups, individuals renew calls for UN-led probe of drug war killings: http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-i... @interaksyon @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

 

Press Release: Global Statement Calls for International Action on Philippine Drug War Killings

https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

 

Trump Celebrates "Great Relationship" With Philippine President Duterte at ASEAN Summit

http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2017/11/trump-celebrates-great-relationship-philippine-president-duterte-asean-summit #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

 

Other:

 

Amnesty International Report report shows government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extraj... #StopTheKillings Civil society calls for international action: https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine...

 

Human Rights Watch report shows government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-kil... #StopTheKillings Civil society calls for international action: https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine...

 

Thank you Prime Minister Trudeau for pressing Duterte on human rights in the Philippines drug war: http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-raises-conc... Civil society supports you -- http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump...

 

Thank you Prime Minister Ardern for pressing Duterte on human rights in the Philippines drug war: https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/188439-jacinda-ardern... Civil society supports you -- http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trump...

 

– END –

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