February 8, 2024
While there are unconfirmed reports on a warrant of arrest against former President Rodrigo Duterte, KARAPATAN believes that steps to make him and his co-conspirators accountable for grave human rights violations, through international or domestic mechanisms, are long overdue and that any effort towards redress should be done immediately.
Official police records put the number of individuals killed in official anti-drug operations at 6,200. But estimates by other human rights groups put the number at 30,000, including those killed in rub-outs by police-sanctioned vigilante groups.
KARAPATAN has documented at least 447 victims of extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s counter-insurgency campaign, notwithstanding thousands who were forcibly displaced, threatened, and harmed by his murderous policy that resulted in grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The victims have waited long enough in the face of the utter failure of domestic redress mechanisms to mete justice and exact accountability for Duterte’s crimes.
Since 2016, there have only been three convictions for “drug war”-related killings and only foot soldiers have been targeted, leaving the real masterminds scot-free. The drug war review panel was seemingly designed to pacify the wide clamor for justice and to evade questions on government policies and the climate of impunity that are among the root causes of these killings.
Meanwhile, the Administrative Order No. 35 task force and the Department of Justice have failed to prosecute and punish perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances.
International human rights mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court offer the victims and their families an opportunity to pursue the justice they have been seeking, and the reported issuance of an arrest warrant against Duterte is definitely a step forward.
At any rate, the clock has started ticking for Rodrigo Duterte. We reiterate our call on the Philippine government to cooperate with the ICC, by assisting the institution in conducting its investigation, in enforcing arrest warrants and in prosecuting Duterte and his cohorts.