Human rights group slams Philippines president Duterte’s threat to
‘If they are obstructing justice, you shoot them,’ Rodrigo Duterte tells
police officers of activists opposed to his drugs war
Rodrigo Duterte ‘should retract his reprehensible remarks’, Human Rights
Oliver Holmes, Southeast Asia correspondent
17 August 2017
Human Rights Watch has denounced a call by Philippine president Rodrigo
Duterte for police to shoot rights activists who get in the way of his
bloody drug war.
Duterte should immediately withdraw his statement or be investigated for
possibly instigating or inciting violence against Philippine rights
advocates, the New York-based advocacy group said.
The body’s deputy Asia director, Phelim Kine, said the threat “is like
painting a target on the backs of courageous people working to protect
the rights and upholding the dignity of all Filipinos”.
Duterte “should retract his reprehensible remarks immediately before
there is more blood on his hands”, he added.
Speaking following the bloodiest night of his one-year tenure in high
office, Duterte said he would investigate human rights defenders
criticising him, or order officers to kill them.
“One of these days, you human rights groups, I will also investigate
you. That’s the truth. For conspiracy,” Duterte said.
“If they are obstructing justice, you shoot them,” he said. “So they can
really see the kind of human rights.”
Police in the Philippines killed 32 people in a series of raids near
Manila on Monday night, part of an operation authorities said was aimed
to “shock and awe” drug dealers.
Duterte later said he approved of the “massive raid” and called for more
bloodshed: “Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what
ails this country.”
The former prosecutor, who has repeatedly assured police he will pardon
them for crimes, previously threatened to kill human rights defenders in
Nicknamed “the Punisher” for his lethal approach to policing, Duterte
has also threatened to block an investigation by the national commission
on human rights into alleged abuses by Philippine security forces,
although he later said his threat was a “joke”.
Political opponents of Duterte have attempted to bring him to the
international criminal court (ICC) in the Netherlands, accusing the
president of crimes against humanity.
His call on Wednesday for police to consider human rights advocates
legitimate drug war targets is a sinister escalation in his rhetoric,
Human Rights Watch said.
“Duterte is on notice that his death threats against human rights
advocates could pave the way for prosecution for crimes against
humanity,” Kine said. “Duterte’s assault on accountability highlights
the urgent need for a UN-led international investigation into his
Since the former mayor of Davao city became president last July,
government figures show police have killed close to 3,500 “drug
personalities”. More than 2,000 other people have been killed in
drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained
circumstances, according to police data.