LONDON - Amnesty International claims the Philippine government has ordered the police to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of executions that may amount to crimes against humanity. President Rodrigo Duterte this week ordered all police anti-drug units to be disbanded in the wake of the killing of a South Korean man, allegedly by corrupt officers.
The scale of Amnesty’s accusations is shocking. The group claims up to 7,000 people have been killed in the last seven months, since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.
“The government, at the highest levels, has ordered the police – and the police working in concert with armed hit men – who are essentially acting as hit squads and executing people," . Tirana Hassan, Amnesty’s Crisis Response director said.
Amnesty says the police often act with no evidence – and target the poorest sections of Philippine society.
“What we found is police are being paid for individual hits," Hassan said. "They’re working in cahoots with the actual funeral homes, where they’re being paid for each body they deliver to the funeral home. We’ve seen police who have planted evidence to actually cover up extrajudicial executions.”
Duterte has made the war on drugs a central tenet of his leadership – even claiming in December that he personally killed suspected criminals when he was mayor of Davao City.
But this week the president ordered all police anti-drug units disbanded, following the killing of a South Korean businessman by corrupt officers allegedly involved in a kidnapping ring. But in a news conference Monday, he said the war on drugs would go on.
“The drug war? I will extend it to the last day of my term," Duterte announced.
The Philippine government has yet to respond directly to Amnesty’s report. President Duterte has repeatedly said he was elected on a mandate to eliminate illegal drugs.