The prosecution of Senator Leila De Lima showed that critics demanding accountability for the victims of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war may trigger "vicious official reprisals", the advocacy watchdog group Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
"De Lima’s prosecution is a warning to all critics of Duterte’s drug war that demanding accountability for victims may spark vicious official reprisals," HRW said in a statement.
The HRW released the statement after the Supreme Court voted 9-6 to dismiss De Lima’s petition that questioned her arrest over one of the three drug-related cases filed against her in connection with the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison during her term as Justice secretary.
The group said that the high court "dashed hopes it would overturn the politically motivated prosecution of the highest-profile critic" of Duterte's "murderous war on drugs."
Apart from De Lima, the group pointed out that targets of the administration's "harassment campaign" included human rights organizations and activists, lawyers, United Nations officials, and journalists.
"Duterte and his government have systematically sought to vilify, harass, and intimidate those who have pursued accountability for drug war crimes domestically and internationally," it said.
HRW called on concerned governments to step in to see the end of the deadly drug war.
"Concerned governments should press for an end to the deadly anti-drug campaign, publicly express their outrage at de Lima’s prosecution, and support a UN-led international investigation," it said. —NB, GMA News