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Call for Justice, Accountability and Appropriate Support for Children and Families Affected by the Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign

September 14th, 2020

The Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC Coalition) expresses its deep concern over the Philippine Government’s lack of accountability and strategic action to prevent and address killings and other human rights violations committed against children concerning the anti-illegal drug operations.

Civil society organizations have documented 122 child deaths related to the anti-illegal drug campaign from July 1, 2016, to December 2019, but the actual number of deaths could be higher as many cases of child killings have not been reported because of fear.

In its report on children’s rights implementation in the Philippines, the CRC Coalition asserts that while the President has issued Administrative Order No. 35 in 2012 which mandates the review and resolution of cases of alleged extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, there is no specific measure to prevent and address killings of children. The murder of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos has been the sole case that has led to a conviction. The report also highlights the campaign’s other severe impacts on children such as coming into contact with the law and being detained owing to their involvement in the illegal drugs trade; experiencing trauma after witnessing killings; and facing discrimination, with their parents being accused of drug use/peddling, often leading to children dropping out of school or leaving home. The impact on children who have lost their parents due to killings also has not received government attention. The Ateneo School of Government estimates 18,398 to 32,395 orphaned children from over 9,000 reported deaths, potentially causing long-term and cross-generational impact on children. There is no data on the number of children abandoned as a result of arrests and imprisonment of parents, and on children as witnesses of violence related to the campaign.

A study conducted by Save the Children reveals a lack of protocols and mechanisms to protect children during anti-drug operations. The study also cites the lack of child-sensitive drug prevention and rehabilitation programs, and the absence of appropriate services to address the specific needs of children affected by the campaign such as mental health and psychosocial services, and legal and financial assistance.   

The CRC Coalition reiterates the following recommendations to the Philippine Government in its submission to the 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines in 2016: 

  • Investigate the killings especially those that resulted in children’s deaths, make investigation reports accessible to the public, and hold perpetrators accountable to the crimes they have committed.
  • Provide psychosocial interventions and medical assistance to affected children and families.   
  • Review their protocols in handling children affected by the campaign to ensure that children are protected at all times.

With the 45th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council being convened from September 14 to October 2 in Geneva, the CRC Coalition affirms the recommendation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for an “independent and impartial investigation” into the killings, and supports the call of human rights organizations for the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution establishing an independent international mechanism to investigate extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations committed since 2016. This should include killings and human rights violations committed against children as a consequence of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

The CRC Coalition stands with child rights organizations’ and human rights groups’ call for justice, actual and thorough investigation, and accountability.  

*About CRC Coalition

Founded in 1993, the Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC Coalition), formerly known as the Philippine NGO Coalition on the UN CRC, has been submitting periodic reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child since 1994. We also inform and participate in other human rights reporting mechanisms such as the NGO alternative reporting for the International Covenant on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights following the Philippines’ ratification of the UN CRC in 1990.

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