US State Department: Stop Funding State Sponsored Murder in the Philippines
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During a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila on Wednesday, July 27, US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $32 million in security aid to the Philippines. While there is no specific information on what programs would be funded by the US, one of the main topics of the meeting between Kerry and Duterte was the intensified law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and users in the Philippines that have left over 700 people dead since May 10th. The news of this aid package not only signifies U.S. tolerance for the human rights abuses facilitated by the Duterte administration but makes the U.S. a direct funder of state-sponsored murder.
President Duterte came into power in May with a platform that called for cracking down on drug trafficking in the Philippines and has delivered on that promise since taking office. He has called for citizens, police, and even the Communist-led New People’s Army to take to the streets and kill suspected drug users and dealers, promising them protection from legal consequences. In addition to the many who have already lost their lives to the crackdown, over 60,000 additional people have turned themselves into authorities in fear for their lives should they be caught selling or using drugs. This approach deviates from the agreements reached in April’s United Nations Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS). The UNGASS outcome document calls for UN member states to “prevent any possible acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in accordance with domestic legislation and applicable international law.” The Duterte administration's actions have violated both the consensus reached at UNGASS and its human rights obligations.
This is not the only occurrence of the United States directly sponsoring drug-related human rights abuses. In addition to the Philippines, the U.S. offers millions of dollars in annual security aid to countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Iran that regularly utilize the death penalty as punishment for nonviolent drug offenders. In addition, the U.S. offers hundreds of millions of dollars to Honduras for international narcotics control and law enforcement, money which is used by the state to silence and murder activists like Berta Cáceres. While the Obama administration has made it very clear they would like to see a new approach to drugs grounded in science and tolerance at home, they have not made the same commitment abroad. If President Obama, John Kerry, and the U.S. State Department are serious about global human rights, they will halt this aid package to the Philippines and all other states who use U.S. funding to violate human rights.
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