UK surveillance technology helping Duterte’s human rights crackdown

Kaleb Lloyd on growing threats to those challenging abuses
The Guardian Letters
Tue 13 Mar 2018 17.48 GMT
Last modified on Tue 13 Mar 2018 22.00 GMT

President Rodrigo Duterte firing rounds with a sniper rifle. Photograph: Robinson Ninal/AFP/Getty Images
Your report (10 March) highlights the 600-long list of respected human rights defenders and community leaders labelled as “communist terrorists” issued last week by the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, which even includes the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. Duterte, whose police have committed thousands of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, is currently looking at possible prosecution by the international criminal court. He has threatened to kill and even behead human rights workers who gather evidence of his abuses. As your report notes, Duterte is seeking court approval which will give him the power to continuously monitor the movements of anyone on the list.
The Philippines government has for some time been trying to purchase sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment. Despite Duterte’s constant attacks on human rights, the UK government has already sold him around £150,000 worth of surveillance technology, including IMSI-catchers, which are used to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, and surveillance tools to monitor internet activity. The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines is calling for an immediate end to the export of such repressive technology by the UK government to the Duterte regime.
Kaleb Lloyd
Secretary, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines United Kingdom (CHRP UK)