Duterte gov’t’s use of drug boxes, drug-free stickers might lead to mistaken arrests, discrimination – CHR

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File photo of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has expressed concern over the government’s use of drug boxes and drug-free stickers as part of the Duterte administration’s anti-narcotics campaign.

In a statement issued Sunday, the CHR said that while it “supports the government’s campaign,” these measures might lead to mistaken arrests and discrimination of persons suspected of being involved in illegal drugs.

“The Commission fears that the manner of pursuing personalities involved in illegal drugs violates the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, infringing on their human rights guaranteed under local law and applicable international law,” it said.

The CHR said the “information collected through the drop boxes — while serves as tips or leads to the police — may expose an individual to mistaken arrest if the information is not verified and court processes are not involved.”

“In the same way, residents of a house with no drug-free sticker may be unduly discriminated and/or tagged as drug-users/pushers without due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution,” the commission said.

“This also violates the right of any person to be heard before he/she is condemned. A person’s honor, as well as the reputation of his/her family, would also be harmed,” it added.

The CHR said local and national authorities must be reminded that they should “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons” as stated in Section 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.

It also said that the country’s 1987 Charter and international covenants uphold “the individual’s right to privacy, human dignity, and equal treatment before the law without discrimination.”

“We recognize the vitality of any community-based program, which aims to highlight that peace and order is a shared responsibility of every Filipino, and that concerned citizens and sectors can proactively help the government in its campaign against crime and illegal drugs. But the CHR remains firm that authorities must ensure that these measures are not, in any way, violative of the Constitution and other human rights standards,” the commission said.

“The Commission continues to be watchful of the measures and procedures that are implemented. The Commission is also hopeful that the government will continue to re-examine its anti-drug campaign and adopt a strategic and comprehensive, but human rights-based approach,” it added.