25 August 2019

Court pushes Manila on drug war records

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The Supreme Court in the Philippines has urged the police to stop resisting an earlier order for revealing information about thousands of deadly encounters in the country’s war on drugs. reports citing Press TV.

Addressing the country's solicitor-general, Jose Calida, the high court issued a 15-day ultimatum for handing over full records of the fatalities.

Calida was ordered to submit names, addresses and gender of those killed in police operations, and other drug-related deaths from July 2016 until November 2017. Supreme Court acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio also demanded details of each deadly anti-drug operation, the police and witnesses involved and copies of warrants against the suspects killed during the period.

The order is based on a petition by two complainants, including a group of Manila slum dwellers who have urged the court to make the details of the deaths publicly available.

Calida, who had challenged the earlier ruling on the grounds of national security, declined to comment on the new order. Police spokesman John Bulalacao said he would comment when he received a copy of the order.

The order would be a blow to efforts by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to keep operational details of its crackdown on drugs secret. Police say some 4,100 people have been killed in the campaign launched against drugs since Duterte came to power 21 months ago. Several thousand more have been killed during the crackdown that the government blames either on vigilantes or rival gang members.

Duterte and senior officials have rejected criticisms by rights campaigners and Western governments that many of those killed have been ordinary people, saying the campaign has mostly targeted dealers who violently resisted arrest.

Rights and legal groups hailed the court order, calling it a triumph for those seeking to end what they designate as systematic abuses, cover-ups and executions by certain state officials in Duterte’s government.

“The Supreme Court has demonstrated with this initial order that it will perform its role as our people’s beacon and bastion of justice,” said the Center for International Law, a group of lawyers in the Philippines which had repeatedly called for the disclosure of the incident records.

“It’s about time the government should take responsibility and, if so proven, liability for playing God in the snuffing of lives,” said Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia, urging Duterte’s government to follow the law and comply with the court order.

2018.04.03 / 20:55
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