February 23, 2017 / 11:42 AM / 5 months ago

Philippines to defend Duterte's drug war at U.N. rights body

2 Min Read

MANILA, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The Philippine foreign minister on Thursday said he would tell a United Nations rights body that the killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs were not state-sponsored.

More than 7,700 people have been killed since Duterte unleashed the drugs war in June, about 2,500 in what police say are shootouts during raids and sting operations.

Most of the rest are under investigation and activists believe many were extrajudicial killings. Police blame the killings on vigilante groups over which they have no control.

Perfecto Yasay said he would address the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, comprised of 47 nations, during a session set to run from Monday until March 24.

"Our justice system does not tolerate violations of human rights, does not tolerate any state-sponsored extrajudicial killings," Yasay told reporters. "That's the truth."

Last month, Duterte dismantled police anti-drug units after a South Korean businessman was killed inside the national police headquarters, but vowed to forge ahead with his war on drugs until the last day of his term.

"Divisive fear-mongering" has become a dangerous force in the world, the secretary general of rights group Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, said in a statement this week.

He described leaders like Duterte, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan as "wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people". (Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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