Fewer EJKs, says US report

Fewer EJKs, says US report

Extrajudicial killings continue, but have decreased in number in the third year of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, according to a US government report on human rights abuses.

The annual US Department of State report released on Thursday said “fatalities fell dramatically” after President Duterte briefly suspended the antinarcotics operations of the Philippine National Police during the final months of 2017 due to reported abuses.

“Extrajudicial killings have been the chief human rights concern in the country for many years and after a sharp rise with the onset of the antidrug campaign in 2016, they continued in [2018] albeit at a lower level,” the US Department of State said.

“Fatalities fell dramatically following the PNP’s suspension of the counternarcotics campaign in accordance with a presidential memorandum in October 2017. The President reversed the suspension in December 2017 and reported extrajudicial killings increased, but to a lower level than prior to the suspension,” the report said.

Citing media reports, the US Department of State said 673 people were killed in police antidrug operations from January to September last year, compared to more than 900 killed in the same period last year.

From July 2016 to July 2018, an average of six people died daily in antidrug operations based on official police reports, the US Department of State cited.

Based on official reports, 4,854 civilians and 87 members of security forces were killed in 105,658 antidrug operations conducted from July 2016 to September 2018, it added.

The reported number of alleged extrajudicial killings “varied widely” since government and nongovernmental organizations used different definitions, the US report noted.

It added that despite the President’s statement that unlawful police actions would be investigated, the government investigated only “a limited number” of reported rights abuses.

“Slow judicial processes remained an obstacle to bringing government officials allegedly involved in human rights abuses to justice,” the report said.