The Philippine government and police forces have utilized the country's "war on drugs" as a pretext for committing widespread murders, according to a new report by Amnesty International, which calls for the United Nations to investigate possible crimes against humanity as a result of the country's drug policy.
Titled "They Just Kill," the report alleges that Philippine police officers would often fabricate reasons for using lethal force against people suspected of involvement with drugs. According to the report, officers would frequently justify the use of lethal force by citing a "buy-bust" justification, asserting that suspects fired upon officers during undercover sting operations.
Often, individuals did not own firearms or were too poor to buy them, the report alleges.
"It's so consistent, it’s a script. In fact, when you see the report, it looks like a template," said a Philippine investigator quoted in the report.
Amnesty International also asserts that "drug watch lists" used to identify individuals associated with the drug trade are "unreliable, illegitimate, and unjustifiable," and part of a broader policy against the country's poor in which officers are encouraged to use lethal force.
"This insatiable and vicious system rewards blind compliance and murder," Amnesty International's regional director for East and Southeast Asia, Nicholas Bequelin, said.
In response to its findings, the rights group is calling for the U.N. to open an investigation into the killings.
Iceland has submitted a draft resolution to the U.N. Human Rights Council, calling for a probe into the drug war.
"President Duterte’s 'war on drugs' continues to be nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price," Bequelin said.
Duterte's government vows to defy any U.N. investigation.
“They have no business interfering with us,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in comments published by The Washington Post. “They are insulting the intelligence of the Filipino people. At the same time, they are insulting our sovereignty,” he said.