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Children at high risk in PHL war against drugs, say UN experts

A group of United Nations experts called for immediate action against human rights violation amid threats against the lumad or indigenous people and alleged summary execution of children.

"We are witnessing severe, multiple human rights violations, especially against indigenous peoples and human rights defenders," the experts said in a joint statement.

The UN experts are Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

The group also pointed out that, "Children are not being spared and continue to be at high risk in a climate of prevailing violence."

The group, however, did not cite particular cases, but they said "Numerous killings and extra-judicial executions of villagers, farmers and human rights defenders working with them have been reliably reported."

"We are shocked by the increasing levels of violence, killings, intimidation and harassment being suffered by human rights defenders – including those protecting indigenous peoples - trade union organizers, farmers and their family members," they said.

The statement was issued a week after President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address in which he threatened to bomb lumad schools that he alleged teach children to rebel against the government.

In the speech, Duterte made his threat as he recalled the casualties communist insurgents inflicted on security forces.

"Kasi eskwelahan nila, but they are teaching subversion, communism, lahat na. So umalis kayo diyan. Sabihin ko diyan sa mga lumad ngayon, umalis kayo diyan. Bobombahan ko ‘yan. Isali ko ‘yang mga istruktura ninyo," the President said.

The UN experts also pointed out that, "Allegations of summary executions, including of children, are also on the rise."

Callamard, Forst, and de Boer-Buquicchio called for a thorough investigation and that the perpetrators be meted appropriate penalty.

“We urge the Government to ensure effective protection of individuals and groups who may be subject to extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions, or those who received death threats,” the experts said.

“The Government must also prevent incitement to violence or killings against indigenous communities, human rights defenders and farmers,” they concluded.

In the same statement, the group of UN human rights experts said they have been in contact with the Philippine government regarding these issues. — BAP/KG, GMA News