Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (15 December) on the human rights situation in the Philippines:
The human rights situation in the Philippines is a source of concern for several reasons. Although the number of deaths has fallen recently, the so-called war on drugs has claimed thousands of lives so far and these deaths have not been investigated by the criminal justice system. The increasing threats against those who stand up for the preservation and protection of human rights in the Philippines is particularly alarming.
As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Philippines has a particular responsibility to uphold human rights. This responsibility means that rule-of-law principles must be applied in the fight against drug-related crime. All deaths related to such crime must be investigated.
Civil society plays an essential role in protecting human rights in a system based on the rule of law. It is the Government’s responsibility to protect civil society groups and political activists, in particular against potential threats to which they are exposed as a result of their work. Threats against human rights defenders cannot be downplayed as a joke. They have a detrimental impact on the Philippines’ international reputation as a country that has undertaken to observe rule-of-law principles and uphold human rights.
The German Government calls on the Philippine Government to safeguard the freedom and protection of civil society.“
Since President Rodrigo Duerte took office in July 2016, thousands of people have been killed in the so-called war on drugs. Almost none of these cases have been investigated by the criminal justice system. According to official figures, 3900 people have been killed in the fight against drug-related crime since Duerte took office. Human rights organisations estimate the number of fatalities at well over 10,000.
In response to criticism by local human rights organisations and the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines of the brutality used in the fight against drug-related crime, President Duerte has repeatedly issued threats.