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  • Over 5,000 drug suspects have died in alleged gunbattles with the police.

    Over 5,000 drug suspects have died in alleged gunbattles with the police. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 April 2019
Opinion

The human rights groups said the court’s decision could shed light on numerous allegations of extrajudicial killings carried out by orders of the Rodrigo Duterte-led government.

Philippines Supreme Court has ordered the government solicitor-general to provide the police reports, on thousands of killings in the anti-drug crackdown, that have been requested by human rights groups: Free Legal Assistance Group and Center for International Law, court spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka announced.

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"It's a big step forward for transparency and accountability," Jose Manuel "Chel" Diokno, who heads the Free Legal Assistance Group, stated about Tuesday’s ruling which unanimously strikes down Solicitor General Jose Calida’s motion to keep the documents sealed.

Calida claimed that the release of documents would pose a national security risk.

The human rights groups said the court’s decision could shed light on numerous allegations of extrajudicial killings carried out by orders of the Rodrigo Duterte-led government.

"This is an emphatic statement by the highest court of the land that it will not allow the rule of law to be trampled upon in the war on drugs. It is a very important decision,” Joel Butuyan, president of the Center for International Law, added. 

The Supreme Court also ordered the release of the list of people killed in police drug raids from July 1, 2016, to November 30, 2017.

"These documents are the first step toward the long road to justice for the petitioners and for thousands of victims of the 'war on drugs' and their families,” Butuyan noted.

According to United Nations rights experts and human rights watchdogs, over 5,000 poor drug suspects have died in alleged gunbattles with the police.

The death toll sparked two complaints of mass murder have been made to the International Criminal Court, which the Philippines president subsequently withdrew from.

However, Duterte has repeatedly threatened drug dealers with death while denies ordering extrajudicial killings.

The 15-member court has yet to rule on a separate petition to declare President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign unconstitutional.

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