UN launches investigation into mass killings during the Philippines’ drug war

By Helene Fung

The United Nations Human Rights Council will be setting up an investigation into mass killings during Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”.

The Filipino government’s official version is that 6,600 people have been killed by the police in shootouts with suspected drug dealers since Mr Duterte was elected in 2016 with promises to target crime. Activists however estimate the death toll to be at least 27,000.

The Philippines’ UN delegation lobbied against the UNHRC resolution, which asked national authorities to prevent extrajudicial killings, and to co-operate with UN human rights investigator Michelle Bachelet, who is to report her findings in June 2020.

Philippines Ambassador Evan Garcia read a statement by the Filipino foreign ministry rejecting the resolution as “politically-partisan and one-sided”.

When asked by reporters whether access will be granted to UNHRC officials to investigate, Mr Duterte said “Let them state their purpose and I will review it.”

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