CHR urges PNP, DOJ to release results of drug war probes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 19) — The Commission on Human Rights has urged the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice to disclose the results of their investigations into the killings in the campaign against illegal drugs.

In its April 2022 report released on Wednesday, the CHR pointed out that internal investigations into law enforcement operations that led to deaths have been "inaccessible and nontransparent."

The CHR said the PNP has oftentimes "refused, denied, or ignored" requests from the commission to review documents from the police even though they followed the guidelines to obtain the information.

"Independent and impartial accountability mechanisms — such as the fact-finding investigations by the CHR — have been hampered by the predilection and uncooperativeness of agencies involved in the campaign against illegal drugs," it reported.

This policy of uncooperativeness was reportedly due to a “presidential directive” given to the PNP and the military in September 2017. They can refuse not to participate in any investigation into alleged human rights violations committed by its personnel, the CHR added.

The CHR reported that as of March 31, at least 6,241 were killed in police operations. It urged the PNP to conduct "full, immediate, transparent and impartial investigations on drug-related extra-judicial killings.”

“These reports should be made accessible to the public, provided that such access would not interfere with any pending investigation or litigation,” the CHR added.

The human rights body also requested the PNP Human Rights Affair Office to release a bi-annual report that emphasizes human rights violations committed by its personnel. It should include "updates on legal processes undertaken by the office against these violators."

The Department of Justice should also investigate the cases involving drug-related extrajudicial killings through the National Bureau of Investigation, and "prosecute persons charged with the commission of these extrajudicial killings through the National Prosecution Service," the CHR said.

The human rights body also recommended that the DOJ should "regularly and automatically furnish the human rights body with "complete and comprehensive reports" of the panel's review on anti-illegal drug operations and deaths.

“The Commission finds that the government has not only failed in its obligation to respect and protect the human rights of every citizen, in particular, victims of drug-related killings, but it has also encouraged a culture of impunity that shields perpetrators from being held to account,” it said.

"It must be emphasized that the Commission supports campaigns to combat the effects and proliferation of dangerous drugs, but it reminds the State that such measures must be coupled with a strong drive to promote due process, equal protection, full accountability, and the rule of law, thus, fulfilling its fundamental duty to uphold the rights and dignity of all," it added.