HRW: Drug war killings stats worse during the pandemic

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In this Friday, April 3, 2020, photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds ballpens as he addresses the nation during a late night live broadcast in Malacanang, Manila, Philippines. Duterte is on quarantine for more than a week after meeting officials, who have been exposed to people infected with the new coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Toto Lozano/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Divisiion via AP)

Crimes against human rights due to the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign have gone worse during the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report international human rights group.

The Human Rights Watch, using government statistics, reported that drug war-linked deaths have risen in the past few months as the country struggles in fighting the coronavirus crisis.

Said drug-linked killings from the period of April to July 2020—when strict community quarantine measures were imposed—were 50 percent higher compared to the previous four-month period.

According to the report, 155 persons were killed in the past four months. Prior to the pandemic, 103 people were killed from December 2019 to March 2020.

“As the government’s own statistics show, the atrocities in the “drug war” have worsened, even as the country suffers the worst in the region from the pandemic,” the HRW said.

Official government data claims only 5,810 people have died during anti-drug operations since July 2016, while over 251,000 individuals have also been arrested under the administration’s drug war.

Local and international rights groups, however, say thousands more have died in extrajudicial killings, which the government has denied over and over again.

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