Asia-Pacific

Philippine executions rampant: Amnesty

Human Rights group Amnesty has called on the United Nations to investigate killings by police in the Philippines in the name of an anti-drug crackdown.

Unlawful killings continue unabated three years into the Philippines' war on drugs, with a pattern of executions under the guise of police operations, a report said on Monday.

The London-based Amnesty International report "They Just Kill" urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to approve an investigation into the Philippines, where there was now a "perilous normalisation" of illegal executions and police abuses.

A vote on the resolution by the 47-member council is expected later this week.

The exact number of dead in President Rodrigo Duterte's infamous war on drugs is impossible to independently verify, but many thousands have been killed.

The government has repeatedly rejected allegations that police have executed drug users and dealers and say victims' families can file legal cases against police.

Amnesty said the killings overwhelmingly targeted poor and marginalised communities lacking the means or support to mount legal challenges against police.

Amnesty's report compiled in April focused on Bulacan province, the new epicentre of the crackdown, examining 27 killings there during 20 incidents, 18 of which were official police operations.

Based on witnesses and other information, it concluded half were extrajudicial killings.

The police narrative that undercover officers posing as drug buyers had killed only in self defence "doesn't meet the feeblest standards of credibility", Amnesty concluded.

Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo was not immediately aware of the report when contacted on Monday and gave no initial comment.

Last week he said police conduct was lawful and described the call for a UN probe as interference by foreign governments "misled by false news and untruthful narratives."

"Violent encounters during police operations are not extraordinary," he said. "Illegal drugs alter the psychological make up of those pushers and users, hence the violent resistance."

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