122 children killed in Duterte’s drug war – report

AT LEAST 122 children’s lives have been claimed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, according to a newly released report by two non-governmental organizations.

A report released on Monday, June 29 by the World Organization Against Torture and the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center found that the killings are often deliberate and “far from being only ‘collateral damage’ as callously stated” by government officials.

They documented 122 killings of children, aged from one to 17 years old, from July 2016 to December 2019.

However, the report said that the real figure of killed children is higher.

“This number is a minimum: with parents and relatives often too afraid of reprisals to report or testify, it is likely that the actual figures are higher,” it noted.

The report also noted that the killings fall under four patterns: direct targets, killed as proxies when real targets could not be found, killed as a result of mistaken identity, or killed by stray bullets during police operations.

“Far from being only ‘collateral damage,’ as callously stated by President Rodrigo Duterte, these have been often deliberate killings,” it said.

“Our investigations show that 38.5% were carried out by policemen as [part] of police operations, while 61.5% were executed by unknown individuals, often masked or hooded assailants, some of them with direct links to the police,” it added.

The report also highlighted six cases, which includes “one particularly horrific case” wherein a seven-year-old boy was “killed in cold blood because he had witnessed the murder of an adult by a member of the local authorities.”

The report likewise found that the youngest victim was 20 months old, and that seven children had been killed between January and March this year.

“These revelations must be a wake-up call for the international community, who has been largely absent as the Philippine government has kept trampling human rights,” said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock in a statement.

“Over the past four years, we have hardly seen any meaningful reaction to the wanton killing of thousands of people under the pretext of the ‘war on drugs,’ the targeting of the poorest and most marginalized citizens of the Philippines, and the persecution of human rights defenders, many of whom are in prison for their legitimate work. It is the total lack of accountability that feeds the cycle of violence, including the war on children we are witnessing,” he added.

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