Philippines says top rights group giving misleading account of drugs war deaths

About 3,987 people had been killed in Philippine police anti-drug operations during the 18-month crackdown. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Philippines says top rights group giving misleading account of drugs war deaths

MANILA: The Philippines hit back at a prominent US-based human rights group on Monday for what it said was a misleading death toll of more than 12,000 in its war of drugs, putting the number at half of that and championing its rate of arrests and drug seizures.
New York-based Human Rights Watch on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte had not only resisted calls to end his brutal campaign, but handled criticism by “impugning, harassing, and threatening critics of the government and human rights defenders.”
The president’s office held a news conference on Monday with police and the drugs enforcement agency to present a detailed rebuttal to a report the foreign minister, Alan Peter Cayetano, said was without “any real research, study or investigation.”
Cayetano at the weekend challenged HRW to prove 12,000 people had died in the drugs war, while police spokesman Dionardo Carlos asked the group to provide evidence to help with investigations.
“We hope that they will be more specific, engage us so we can help look into the cases,” he said.
Carlos said 3,987 people had been killed in anti-drug operations during the 18-month crackdown, while some 11 percent, or 2,235, of the total 19,560 murders under police investigation were drug-related.
Eighty-five security forces had been killed during the campaign, he said.
In response to international criticism over what activists and the political opposition say are summary executions and cover-ups, Duterte suspended police from the campaign in October, but has since decided to bring them back.
The authorities deny systematic abuses are taking place in the campaign and say those killed had violently resisted arrest. Activists dismiss that as implausible.
“Oplan Tokhang,” where police visit homes of users and dealers and seek their surrender, is to resume soon, Carlos said, adding that it had brought positive results.
He said more than 1.3 million drugs users had turned themselves in seeking rehabilitation and police had made 119,361 arrests.
The authorities have seized more than two and a half tons of the methamphetamine “shabu,” with a street value of 13.2 billion pesos.


Kremlin says world ‘more dangerous’ if US drops nuclear treaty

Updated 27 min 7 sec ago
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Kremlin says world ‘more dangerous’ if US drops nuclear treaty

  • ‘Russia has been and remains committed to the provisions of this treaty’
  • The treaty was signed by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

RUSSIA: The Kremlin on Monday said the world would be less safe if Washington goes ahead with plans to withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty that banned intermediate-range missiles.
“Such steps, if taken, will make the world more dangerous,” said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov as he rejected claims by US President Donald Trump that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
“Russia has been and remains committed to the provisions of this treaty,” he said.
The US had previously undermined the foundations of the agreement, Peskov added.
“The intention to withdraw from this document is of the deepest concern.”
Peskov reiterated an earlier statement by President Vladimir Putin that Russia would never strike first even if threatened with a nuclear attack.
“We don’t feel that we have the right to inflict the first strike,” he said.
The INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.
The treaty was signed by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who at the weekend also criticized plans to pull out.
US national security adviser John Bolton is in Moscow for two days of talks in which the issue will be discussed.