The Philippines: Duterte Should Disavow Threat to Lawyers

December 12, 2016

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte should disavow his threat to target the lawyers of alleged drug dealers and reaffirm the right of criminal suspects to legal counsel and due process of law, Human Rights Watch said today.

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at Camp Servillano S. Aquino in Tarlac, Philippines on December 11, 2016.

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at Camp Servillano S. Aquino in Tarlac, Philippines on December 11, 2016.

At a public event in Manila on December 7, 2016, Duterte said that drug suspects were able to post bail and avoid prosecution because they have “good, high-profile lawyers,” warning, “Even their lawyers, I will include them.” Duterte’s remarks, amid an abusive “war on drugs” that has resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 Filipinos since July 1, follows a similar warning to human rights defenders on November 28 for allegedly fostering drug use in the country.

“Duterte’s threats against lawyers and human rights defenders constitute a dangerous extension of his abusive ‘war on drugs’ that has already resulted in more than 5,000 killings,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director. “The sinister lesson of Duterte’s first six months in office is that the groups and individuals he publicly identifies as legitimate targets in his drug war all too often end up dead, in high numbers.”



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