International human rights group Amnesty International (AI) has referred to as on the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-states to take a united stand in opposition to the spate of drug-related killings in the Philippines, which hosts this 12 months’s regional summit in Manila.

Champa Patel, AI director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, urged Asean leaders to decide whether or not what the group referred to as as “mass killings” in the Philippines represent a “serious breach” of the Asean constitution, notably non-compliance to the pledge on human rights.

READ: Asean urged: Address threats to human rights

“While they meet in their comfortable surroundings, Asean leaders should spare a thought for the thousands of people who have been killed as part of Duterte’s brutal crackdown. The vast majority are from marginalized and neglected communities, making it effectively a war on the poor,” Patel stated in a press release.

“As the death toll mounts, so does evidence of the Philippines authorities’ role in the bloodshed. That the Philippines is chairing the Asean Summit against this horrifying backdrop is a scandal, and should prompt the government to make independent and effective investigations into unlawful killings an immediate priority. They must send a clear message that there will be accountability and an end to such shocking violations,” he added.

READ: Duterte to get help for drug battle in summit, observers say

Leaders and diplomats of the 10 Asean member-states had been anticipated to arrive beginning Wednesday for the 30th Asean summit in Manila.

In an open letter, the worldwide rights group additionally urged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to “send a clear public message to all law enforcement officials that extrajudicial executions are unacceptable,” “prioritize prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all drug related killings,” and “press criminal charges in any case where investigations uncover sufficient evidence of responsibility for offences.”

“Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the widespread, and continued killing of alleged drug offenders may constitute crimes against humanity. High-ranking government officials, and in particular the Philippines President, have explicitly and repeatedly incited police, as well as private citizens, to kill people they suspect of using or selling drugs, rather than acting in accordance with national laws,” the letter learn.

“Until now, it is unclear how many police, and unknown armed persons, have been investigated, let alone charged for suspected extrajudicial executions, and other serious human rights abuses. Counter-narcotic operations and other law enforcement practices based on the use of force and a militarized approach are not the solution to drug crime, and have instead been shown to increase levels of violence, intimidation and corruption usually associated with drug markets,” the group added.

READ: Duterte, 11 others accused of crimes in opposition to humanity earlier than ICC

AI additionally referred to as on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to provoke a preliminary investigation into “unlawful” killings in President Duterte’s so-called battle on medicine and marketing campaign in opposition to criminality beneath the Rome Stature, “including the involvement of government officials, irrespective of rank and status.”

A case of crime in opposition to humanity in opposition to Duterte and 11 different officers was filed earlier than the ICC by lawyer Jude Josue Sabio, counsel of confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato.

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