Human Rights Watch slams Duterte for unleashing 'rights calamity'


Posted at Jan 13 2017 06:31 PM | Updated as of Jan 14 2017 03:03 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte. File Photo

MANILA – An international human rights organization yet again slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for his war on drugs, calling the Filipino leader out in its report for unleashing a “rights calamity.”

New York-based Human Rights Watch have expressed concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines following the rise into power of Duterte, who has waged a bloody campaign to rid the country of the drug menace.

“Since taking office on June 30, 2016, Duterte and senior government officials have praised the killing spree of suspected drug dealers and drug users and resisted holding those responsible to account,” HRW said in “World Report 2017: Demagogues Threaten Human Rights.”

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth also called out Duterte after he "openly called for summary executions of suspected drug dealers and users—and even of human rights activists who defend them."

The 687-page World Report, HRW’s 27th edition, reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. This year’s report focused on the "new generation of authoritarian populists [who] seek to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights as an impediment to the majority will.”

Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director of HRW, said Duterte has shown no regard for human rights in waging his campaign against drugs.

“In the name of wiping out ‘drug crime,’ President Duterte has steamrolled human rights protections and elevated unlawful killings of criminal suspects to a cornerstone of government policy,” Kine said.

“Friends of the Philippines need to make clear that it can’t be business as usual until the killings stop and there are meaningful moves toward accountability.”

Duterte continues to enjoy high popularity ratings despite his bloody campaign that has earned him condemnation from the United States, United Nations, and the European Union.

The report also singled out the rhetoric of Donald Trump -- a man yet to take office as US president -- as "a vivid illustration of (the) politics of intolerance."

If such voices prevail, it said, "the world risks entering a dark era."
HRW said politicians like Trump were exploiting a "cauldron of discontent" over joblessness, extremist attacks and increasing ethnic and racial diversity to scapegoat refugees, immigrants and minorities. Truth was "a frequent casualty."

Roth said that in a break with the past, the group was calling not only on leaders of troubled countries but on their publics to take steps.

The best antidote to ascendant populism, the report said, is public activism.

"Populists thrive in a vacuum of opposition. A strong popular reaction, using every means available... is the best defense." – with Agence France-Presse