At least 129 children have been killed in the Philippines’ four-year “war on drugs,” most by police or allied assailants, but they might only represent a fraction of the toll, advocate groups said yesterday.
Minors have been directly targeted, punished as proxies, or victims of mistaken identity or “collateral damage,” they said in a report, How Could They Do This To My Child?
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center, a Philippines-based group, urged the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to launch an independent commission of inquiry into extrajudicial killings and other crimes at its three-week session, which opens today
The figures, which include seven child murders this year, are “the tip of the iceberg because it is only those cases that we were able to document and verify, there may be many more in the country,” OMCT secretary-general Gerald Staberock told a news conference. “We are calling on the Human Rights Council to give a clear investigative mandate on the ground to collect the evidence and to ensure accountability.”
“Far from being only ‘collateral damage,’ as callously stated by [Philippine] President Rodrigo Duterte, these have often been deliberate killings,” How Could They Do This To My Child? states.
A Philippine presidential spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Investigators found that 38.5 percent of the documented child killings between July 2016 and December last year were carried out by policemen, while 61.5 percent were by unknown assailants, “some of them with direct links to the police.”
The youngest victim was a 20-month-old girl.
The report was based on information directly collected from the locations where the children were killed, including interviews with local authorities, families and witnesses, and the examination of official documents, OMCT said.
Perpetrators enjoy impunity, with only one case, involving the killing of 17-year-old Manila student Kian delos Santos, recorded on video in 2017, leading to a conviction, the report said.
It is estimated that the total number of extrajudicial killings in the framework of the anti-drug campaign might run as high as 27,000, OMCT said.
In addition, children violating quarantines during the COVID-19 pandemic have been killed, said Rose Trajano of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates.
“We have documented at least 15 extrajudicial killings during the time of COVID and we know that is not all,” she said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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