Philippines: The police’s murderous war on the poor
· Extrajudicial executions may amount to crimes against humanity
· Police plant evidence, take under-the-table cash and fabricate reports
· Paid killers on police payroll
Acting on instructions from the very top of government, the Philippines police have killed and paid others to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said in a report published today.
Amnesty International’s investigation, “If you are poor you are killed”: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines’ “War on Drugs” details how the police have systematically targeted mostly poor and defenceless people across the country while planting “evidence”, recruiting paid killers, stealing from the people they kill and fabricating official incident reports.
“This is not a war on drugs, but a war on the poor. Often on the flimsiest of evidence, people accused of using or selling drugs are being killed for cash in an economy of murder,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director.
“Under President Duterte’s rule, the national police are breaking laws they are supposed to uphold while profiting from the murder of impoverished people the government was supposed to be uplift. The same streets Duterte vowed to rid of crime are now filled with bodies of people illegally killed by his own police.”
Incited by the rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte, the police, paid killers on their payroll, and unknown armed individuals have slain more than a thousand people a month under the guise of a national campaign to eradicate drugs. Since President Rodrigo Duterte came to office seven months ago, there have been more than 7,000 drug-related killings, with the police directly killing at least 2,500 alleged drug offenders.
Amnesty International’s investigation, documents in detail 33 cases that involved the killings of 59 people. Researchers interviewed 110 people across the Philippines’ three main geographical divisions, detailing extrajudicial executions in 20 cities across the archipelago. The organisation also examined documents, including police reports.
Extrajudicial executions are unlawful and deliberate killings carried out by officials, by order of a government or with its complicity or acquiescence. Extrajudicial executions violate the right to life as enshrined in both Philippine and international law.
Killing unarmed people and fabricating police reports
The report documents how the police, working from unverified lists of people allegedly using or selling drugs, stormed into homes and shot dead unarmed people, including those prepared to surrender.
Fabricating their subsequent incident reports, the police have routinely claimed that they had been fired upon first. Directly contradicting the police’s claims, witnesses told Amnesty International how the police conducted late night raids, did not attempt an arrest, and opened fire on unarmed persons. In some cases, witnesses said, the police planted drugs and weapons they later claimed as evidence.
In one case in Batangas City, a victim’s wife described how the police shot dead her husband at close range as she pleaded with them for mercy. After her husband was dead, the police grabbed her, dragged her outside and beat her, leaving bruises.