UN officials renew call for gov't response to alleged rights violations under admin's drug war

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UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) — Two officials of the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday renewed their call for government response to the alleged human rights violations in the country amid the administration's anti-illegal drug campaign.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, UN  High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged the government to "adopt a public health approach and harm reduction initiatives" in line with global standards

This, amid the huge number of people who have died amid the crackdown, which she said "lack respect for rule of law and international standards."

"Despite serious allegations of extra-judicial killings, only one case - the widely reported killing of a teenage boy - has been subject to investigation and prosecution," she said, pertaining to the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in August 2017.

Bachelet also expressed "extreme" concern on the proposal to reintroduce death penalty for drug-related crimes, and lower age of criminal responsibility.

"People who have fallen into the trap of drug reliance need help to rebuild their lives; drug policies should not be more of a threat to their lives than the drugs they are abusing," she said.

UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings Agnes Callamard backed Bachelet's remarks, saying local authorities must conduct "independent and impartial investigations" in response to the "repeated denunciations" of the alleged human rights violations.

"The authorities must ensure that the families of the victims of arbitrary killings are given access to remedies. Importantly, there must be a stated commitment and practice of non-repetition," she said, adding that the government should also look into the killings of rights defenders and advocates.

She also urged Bachelet to take "full note of the massive human rights crisis in the Philippines and [act] accordingly."

According to Callamard, Congress "should strongly and clearly refuse the re-introduction of the death penalty," which she said "would contravene international standards."

President Rodrigo Duterte has been drawing ire for his bloody war on drug, which was one of the campaign promises that catapulted him to the presidency.

More than 5,000 individuals have died since Duterte began the campaign in 2016, according to government data.