Philippines team to help combat drug menace here | Sunday Observer

Philippines team to help combat drug menace here

A special team from the Philippines will soon arrive in Sri Lanka to help combat the drug menace, the President’s Media Division (PMD) stated yesterday. This comes as President Maithripala Sirisena wrapped up his five-day state visit to the Philippines yesterday where he held bilateral discussions focused on economic development, politics, agriculture and people-to-people engagement. The PMD statement added that the Philippines team due in Sri Lanka will look into the type of technical assistance they could provide to eradicate the drug menace.

The President’s visit drew criticism from human rights activists when he praised his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte for the way he dealt with the drug menace. During a state banquet in Malacañang President Sirisena told Duterte, “Your Excellency, the war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world, and personally to me. The drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should emulate you to control this.”

The President said the drug menace cannot be eradicated, even though it is a critical problem globally, as politicians are involved in it. He vowed to take prompt decisions to solve this issue. Duterte’s war against drugs has killed over 5,000 people from 2016.

Human Rights Watch researcher Carlos Conde said the campaign was “a human rights calamity that no country should even try to emulate. No ‘drug war’ that treated the drug problem purely from a crime perspective has ever succeeded,” he said. “What they have brought about are untold suffering, violated the rule of law and human rights”.

Human Rights Commission Chair, Dr. Deepika Udagama said, “From the human rights perspective, the Philippines President’s campaign has raised many eyebrows. The international community, especially the UN, has found his campaign problematic due to the fact that there had been a large number of killings by state authorities of drug suspects widely believed to be extrajudicial executions.”

She said she understands President Sirisena’s stand on controlling the drug menace in the country. “No doubt, Sri Lanka has to adopt a strong campaign against drug trafficking and young people getting addicted to drugs.

But we have to look at a long term solution and not take short cuts through high-handed action that would result in abuse.” Regional Researcher for Amnesty International Thyagi Ruwanpathirana said Duterte was violating basic human rights and was not a model for Sri Lanka.

“President Duterte’s policies which results in extrajudicial killings are in violation of human rights. He denies his citizens the right to life, equality before the law and a fair trial. This is not a model for Sri Lanka under any circumstance, let alone for a President who came to power under the banner of good governance,” she said. In a tweet, yesterday, President Sirisena continued to praise the Philippines’ handling of the drug menace, “Today, I am honoured to visit the Police Headquarters in the Philippines, to study the Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign of the Government. Their commitment is inspiring! Sri Lanka will cooperate to eradicate the drug menace.” 

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