The Philippines justice ministry has said it will investigate thousands of deaths which occurred during President Rodrigo Duterte’s heavy-handed war on drugs after it published details of 52 reviewed cases.
On Wednesday, the Philippines Department of Justice (DOJ) released details of 52 civilian deaths which took place during police operations linked with Duterte’s five-year campaign on drugs.
According to some details, the police could have been responsible for certain deaths. In numerous cases, the DOJ found no gunpowder residue on the victims. Some were even not armed.
Also, the review found officers using excessive force against suspects and shooting them at close range. Some police and medical records had been reported to be missing. According to the release, further investigation would take place into these instances and could lead to criminal charges being brought against officers.
The publications are a rare admission that abuses may have taken place during Duterte’s campaign. Official narrative stated that drug dealers were responsible for all deaths.
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Reuters was informed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra that the DOJ would intensify its inquiry into drug war killings. “Time and resources permitting, the DOJ will review these thousands of other cases, too,”He stated.
Michelle Bachelet (UN high commissioner for human right) requested Manila publish their 52 case findings in order to allow others to examine their work.
Manila repeatedly rejected international calls to investigate the deaths in drug war. The International Criminal Court opened an investigation in September, although this has been dismissed by Duterte, who claimed the court’s jurisdiction in the country ended when the Philippines left the Rome Statute in 2019.
The official death toll from the president’s war on drugs is a little over 6,000, although the real number of fatalities is believed to be many times higher.
Recent announcements by the President that he will be retiring after the 2022 elections have led him to suggest that the blame must stop at his feet and encouraged his officers towards tougher drug policies. “If it’s drugs, you shoot and kill,”He said it in 2020.
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