Hundreds killed in Philippines after police crackdown on drugs

The UN is concerned about the ongoing situation

Hundreds killed in Philippines after police crackdown on drugs

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The UN has urged the new president of the Philippines to end a wave of extra-judicial killings, carried out across the country as part of a radical anti-drug campaign.

It comes as the country's police revealed they were responsible for the deaths of nearly 600 drug suspects since the start of July.

Local media reports suggest the true number could be well over 1,000, when killings apparently carried out by vigilante gangs are taken into account.

The drive began the moment Rodrigo Duterte took office seven weeks ago, after a landslide election victory, won on a promise to launch a "bloody war" against drugs.

Since then more than half a million addicts and pushers have "surrendered" to authorities, signing contracts and undertaking oaths to stop using drugs.

The surrenders are obtained during so-called "knock and ask" operations, often in some of the country's poorest neighbourhoods, where methamphetamine use is rife.

Police have been given unprecedented powers from their president when dealing with users. During a speech at a police ceremony in Quezon City this week, Mr Duterte mocked the UN - saying they should deal with the conflict in the Middle East before criticising him - and told officers he would stand trial on their behalf if they were accused of unlawful killing.

"If their resistance is violent, if you fear for your life when making an arrest, shoot him, and shoot him dead - can I be clearer than that?" Mr Duterte said.

President Duterte's campaign is based on the similarly ruthless approach he took to tackle crime in the southern city of Davao, where he was mayor for over two decades.

However, former justice secretary, Senator Leila De Lima is planning to launch an inquiry into the killings - an act that has already drawn scorn from the President, who labelled her an "immoral woman".

In an interview with Sky News, she said the popularity of the extra-judicial killings was a reflection of a deeper problem.
"There are misfits in all the structures of our government - law enforcers, prosecutors and judges. That's why our justice system is broken, and that is why these shortcuts are being encouraged," Senator De Lima said.

But Duterte's seems determined to continue - pledging to double police salaries by the end of the year, and put meth-addicts, who he described as being "no longer viable as human beings", in 'rehab camps' on military bases.