Suspend cops linked to human rights abuses, Amnesty International urges PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11)— Amid the Senate’s ongoing probe into the “ninja cops” issue, Amnesty International urged Philippine officials to suspend police officers linked to alleged human rights violations.

“Amnesty International calls on the Philippine authorities to suspend from active duty any police officer against whom there are credible allegations of involvement in human rights violations and other serious abuses, pending the conclusion of the investigation,” the London-based human rights organization said in its report released Friday. 

It likewise called on local authorities to file criminal—not just administrative-- charges against those found guilty of human rights abuses.

“Cases of suspected unlawful killings with police involvement should be investigated and prosecuted as criminal offences rather than dealt with through administrative and disciplinary processes, which must never substitute for criminal procedures in such cases,” the report read.

“Criminal charges should be pressed in any case where investigations uncover sufficient, admissible evidence of responsibility for offences involving human rights violations, including unlawful killings, involvement in murders by paid killers, planting of “evidence” or stealing from raided homes or victims,” it added.

The statement comes amid the ongoing Senate probe into the controversial 2013 Pampanga drug raid, as well as "ninja cops" who allegedly recycled illegal drugs confiscated during operations.

Amnesty International reiterated its call for the Philippine government to end its bloody anti-drug campaign, adding that a thorough investigation into the “serious crimes is long overdue.”

The human rights group has long tagged the administration’s drug war as a “war on the poor.” It claimed there have been no meaningful efforts on the government's part to ensure justice for victims of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.

RELATED: Three years on, no ‘meaningful accountability’ for extrajudicial killings in PH – Amnesty International

President Rodrigo Duterte faces a complaint before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in connection with his administration’s flagship anti-drug campaign. Lawyer Jude Sabio filed the "communication" before the ICC in The Hague in April 2017. Two months later, then opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes and then Rep.Gary Alejano also filed supplemental communication before the court. The court's prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, last year launched a preliminary examination on the situation in the Philippines, and depending on the results of that, may decide to start an investigation.

Government data shows at least 6,600 people have been killed in anti-illegal drug operations since Duterte took office in July 2016.

READ: Philippines suspends aid from countries that back UN drug war probe

Malacañang has previously slammed Amnesty International for its comments on the administration’s drug war, and accused the group of “politicizing” the issue.