Crime & Justice

Philippine justice department raises questions on 52 anti-drug war killings

Bangkok, Oct 20 (EFE).- An investigation by the Philippine Department of Justice has questioned the official version of 52 traffickers killed by the police during the war on drugs unleashed by President Rodrigo Duterte that cost the lives of at least 6,181 people.

The Department of Justice’s 20-page report, the first since the investigation was announced in February 2020, revealed that medical analysis of many of the 52 cases investigated may contradict the official version that the suspects pulled their guns before being killed by the police.

Moreover, several of them had multiple bullet wounds and in many cases no autopsies, ballistic tests or paraffin tests were conducted, which would have confirmed whether the executed person had grasped a firearm before his death, local media reported Wednesday.

In these 52 cases investigated, 152 police officers were involved, who have faced administrative action such as temporary suspensions, demotions or dismissals for their errors, while the National Bureau of Investigation has been collecting information for possible criminal investigations.

The justice department’s announcement comes a month after the International Criminal Court (ICC) gave the green light to an investigation into crimes against humanity during the infamous and bloody war on drugs by Duterte.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday claimed that the investigation laid to rest accusations against Duterte because it shows that the Philippine state has investigated and prosecuted individuals for illegal executions.

He underlined that the investigation did not indicate that the president specifically ordered the killings or refused to act against those committing criminal acts.

Last month, Duterte announced having ordered the Department of Justice and the Police to review the behavior of officers during the anti-drug campaign he launched after assuming power in 2016.

He also stressed that the matter should be investigated within the country where the illegalities happened rather in by foreign bodies.

According to official data, at least 6,181 people were executed during police operations between Jul.1, 2016 and Jul.31, 2021 as a part of the war on drugs, although rights groups claim the actual number is between 27,000 and 30,000. EFE


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