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HRC38 Side Event: ‘War on Drugs’ and Declining Democracy in the Philippines

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‘War on Drugs’ and Declining Democracy in the Philippines
Side event at the 38th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council
Thursday, 21 June 2018, 12:00-13:30, room XXIII, Palais des Nations


Since the ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines began in June 2016, the human rights situation in the country has continued to deteriorate. The Philippine President has not only vowed to extend the deadly policy until the end of his term in 2022, but has since threatened human rights defenders, imposed restrictions on freedom of expression, and undermined the independence of the judiciary. Any attempts to independently investigate deaths in the ‘war on drugs’ have been met with resistance – from moves to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, to attacks against Special Procedures mandate holders and UN human rights mechanisms.

States at the UN Human Rights Council have expressed concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines through two joint statements in 2017. However, the Council needs to take concerted action to ensure accountability for the thousands of killings in the ‘war on drugs’ and to hold the Philippines accountable to for its human rights obligations as a member of the Council.


This side event aims to address the following questions:

  • Why is a national independent and impartial investigation on the deaths in the ‘war on drugs’ no longer possible in the Philippines?
  • How is the ‘war on drugs’ seriously endangering democracy in the Philippines?
  • As the Human Rights Council is mandated to respond to serious violations, what must it do to urgently address the ongoing situation in the Philippines and prevent recurrence?


  • Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions
  • Ellecer Carlos, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)
  • Angel Cortez, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP)


  • Budi Tjahjono, Franciscans International



Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Franciscans International

World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Fastenopfer – Action de Carême

Human Rights Watch (HRW)