Manila, Aug 4 (IANS) The UN has condemned an increase in executions of suspected drug dealers and drug addicts in Philippines as part of an aggressive anti-narcotics campaign, local media reports said on Thursday.
According to radio ABS-CBN, 810 people have died since May 10 – a day after the general elections – till Wednesday in the drug war initiated by new President Rodrigo Duterte, EFE news reported.
Of these, 496 were killed in police operations, 240 were executed by unidentified gunmen, and the bodies of another 74 alleged drug dealers had surfaced after being killed.
Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) condemned it, saying “the reports of extrajudicial killing of suspected drug dealers and users” in the Philippines and called Duterte’s anti-drug campaign as a “breach of fundamental rights and freedoms”.
During his election campaign, Duterte had promised to kill thousands of criminals and drug addicts to end crime in the country during the first six months of his mandate.
“Such responses contravene the provisions of the international drug control conventions, do not serve the cause of justice, and will not help to ensure that ‘all people can live in health, dignity and peace, with security and prosperity,'” said Fedotov.
The UNODC official also added they are prepared to help the Philippines “to bring drug traffickers to justice with appropriate legal safeguards, in line with international standards and norms.”
However, despite recent criticism from several international agencies, Duterte expressed his unwavering commitment to the campaign in his State of the Nation address in July.
“There will be no let-up in this campaign (…) We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish,” he said.
He had added that the campaign had led to the arrest of more than 3,600 drug offenders and that 120,000 addicts have been delivered to the authorities.
Duterte, sworn in on June 30, enjoys huge popularity in the Philippines, and latest polls say 91 per cent of those surveyed trust the controversial figure, the highest score ever received by a Philippine president.