According to an investigation released by Human Rights Watch on Wednesday, thousands of children in the Philippines have suffered lasting physical, emotional and as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
The disturbing report, which documents the trauma of children whose parents or guardians have been violently killed, comes a few weeks before an expected decision of the UN Human Rights Council to set up an independent international investigation into the Philippines’ controversial counter-drugs operations.
No fewer than 101 children have been killed either as bystanders or as main targets of the violent crackdown between July 2016 and December 2018, the New York-based group said in a 48-page report.
The report is based on nearly 50 interviews and examines the impact of about two dozen killings under President Duterte’s drug war.
Some children have been forced to drop out of school, to go to work, and even live in the streets as the government doesn’t offer a program to support children left behind by such killings, the rights group said.
“Filipino children have suffered horribly from President Duterte’s decision to unleash the police and their hit men against suspected drug users,” the group’s Philippines researcher Carlos Conde said. “The government needs to stop this endless violence that is upending children’s lives and direct assistance to the children harmed.”
According to Philippine police statistics, over 5,600 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations since July 1, 2016.
Estimates by human rights group place the death toll at more than 27,000.
“In many of the raids, children witnessed the killing of a parent, or were present while their parent was dragged away and shot,’’ Human Rights Watch said.
According to the report, due to this, the children suffer psychological distress, some developing aggressive and violent behaviour, while others becoming withdrawn.