The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted on Thursday, July 11th, to investigate mass killings committed by the police forces against suspected drug dealers in the Philippines, during President Rodrigo Duterte's clamp down on drugs.
While Duterte's government claims that police forces have killed about 6,600 people in shootouts with suspected drug dealers since he was elected in 2016, activists claim the death toll is much bigger, saying that at least 27,000 were killed in such operations.
Filipino activists say that police forces terrorise poor communities, target those enlisted in hasty drug "watch lists," and execute many of them under these operations.
"This is not just a step towards paying justice for the thousands of families of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, but it is also a message that we collectively send out to those who have praised President Duterte," said Ellecer "Budit" Carlos of the Manila-based rights group iDefend.
"This war on drugs, as we have repeatedly said, it's a sham war," he told a news briefing in Geneva.
Following the vote of the UNHRC, Philippines Ambassador Evan Garcia affirmed his country's rejection of the resolution, condemning it as "politically-partisan and one-sided," according to a statement by his foreign ministry.
"We will not tolerate any form of disrespect or acts of bad faith. There will be consequences, far-reaching consequences,' Garcia said, affirming that Duterte's administration was committed to upholding justice.
Human Rights Watch's Laila Matar criticised Garcia's comments, in which he threatened consequences for those who back the resolution, saying that such threat "in turn makes us concerned for the many human rights defenders, civil society activists and journalists on the ground."
The resolution has been led by Iceland; 18 countries voted in favour of the resolution while 14 countries including China have voted against it. Also, Japan abstained along with other 14 states.