Kin of drug war victim, advocates urge UN to proactively investigate killings in PH

“If the ‘war on drugs’ were effective, the proliferation of illegal drugs would no longer be an issue. If domestic investigations were efficient, I wouldn’t be here asking for help again.”


MANILA – Human rights groups and advocates are urging the United Nations (UN) to proactively investigate the ongoing “war on drugs campaign” of the Philippine government.

During the 54th session of the Human Rights Council, Amy Jane Lee, a member of Rise Up for Life and for Rights (Rise Up), emphasized the urgent need for international intervention to address the issue. Her husband was killed by men riding in tandem in 2017.

Rise Up is a group of families of victims of extrajudicial killings because of the war on drugs.

Lee, along with the delegates of the Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch, is lobbying for a comprehensive, relevant, and participatory review of the UN Joint Programme (UNJP), where the UN provides technical assistance to the Philippine government.

“If the ‘war on drugs’ were effective, the proliferation of illegal drugs would no longer be an issue. If domestic investigations were efficient, I wouldn’t be here asking for help again,” said Lee.

Lee was in Geneva as the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) present its report on human rights challenges in addressing and countering all aspects of the world drug problem.

Rise Up was among those which submitted inputs to the OHCHR about human rights violations “resulting from the militarization of anti-drug operations that disproportionately impact the poorest and most marginalized sectors of society.”

Lee also lamented that the UN Joint Programme (UNJP), which is designed for addressing the human rights crisis in the Philippines, did not stop the extrajudicial killings under Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration.

Based on the running count of the Third World Studies Center of the University of the Philippines Diliman, there are a total of 407 drug-related killings under Marcos Jr. administration.

Lee and the delegation of the Philippine UPR Watch urged the member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to support the ongoing investigation into extrajudicial killings during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Philippine government has been resistant with the investigation of the ICC, which consistently raises concerns about the court’s authority and potential violations of sovereignty.

Read:‘Unwise and rash’ move to ‘disengage’ from ICC

However, this year, the ICC Appeals Chamber affirmed its authorization to look into the drug-related killings from November 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019.

Despite the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, supporters here and abroad continue to call on the former to cooperate with the ICC investigation. Many groups believe that this is a crucial step towards achieving accountability for victims.

Kristina Conti, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)-National Capital Region, pointed out, “It is logically inconsistent for the Philippines to cooperate with the UN but not the ICC.”

The NUPL, which represents families of victims of war on drugs in the proceedings before the ICC, once again called on the government to cooperate with the ICC. She emphasized the Philippines’ obligation to cooperate and asserted that perpetrators be held accountable.

The Philippine UPR Watch reiterates its call for the UN, through the OHCHR, to urgently monitor and report on the human rights situation in the Philippines. This is amid the recent incidents such as the killing of lawyer Maria Saniata Liwliwa Gonzales Alzate in Abra and the abduction and arbitrary detention of two environmental activists in Bataan. (AMU, RTS, RVO) (

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